. Volume 42, Number 1 . January 2010
r 2010 Northeastern Political Science Association 0032-3497/10 www.palgrave-journals.com/polity/
Brazil, the Entrepreneurial and Democratic BRIC*
Leslie Elliott Armijo Portland State University Sean W. Burges University of Ottawa
By most objective metrics, Brazil is the least imposing of the ‘‘BRICs countries’’— less populous than China and India, slower-growing in recent years than China, India, or Russia, and the only member of the group lacking nuclear weapons. We argue that Brazil’s material capabilities are more significant than commonly supposed. Moreover, Brazil’s democratic transition in the mid-1980s, along with that of its neighbors, has for the first time enabled Brazil to …show more content…
The essay begins with consideration of Brazil’s objective capabilities in the global system. The second section considers the quite recent emergence of Brazil as a regional leader, which we argue would not have come about but for the prior democratic transitions of Brazil and most of its continental neighbors. The following sections consider Brazil as an activist country at the global level and examine Brazil as a BRIC. We conclude by suggesting that it is in the interests of the United States to welcome Brazil’s new global prominence.
Brazil as a Capable Middle Power
‘‘Power’’ in the global system may be defined in terms of either capabilities, that is, objectively measurable resources that might be deployed by the possessor to get its way, or realized influence, observable instances of subordinate countries changing their behavior in response to the preferences of dominant countries.4 The relational definition of power as realized influence reminds us that states that are predominant in terms of capabilities do not always achieve their goals, often failing to persuade less capable states to join their preferred projects. Moreover, observers such as Hurrell and his colleagues or Frazier and Stewart-Ingersoll5 suggest that identification as a ‘‘major power’’ is at least partially socially constructed, pointing as an example to the length of time it took for twentiethcentury Japan to be widely accorded this