Receive "The World According to Tom Barnett" Brief
Where I Work
Search the Site
Buy Tom's Books
  • Great Powers: America and the World After Bush
    Great Powers: America and the World After Bush
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating
    Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century
    The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • Romanian and East German Policies in the Third World: Comparing the Strategies of Ceausescu and Honecker
    Romanian and East German Policies in the Third World: Comparing the Strategies of Ceausescu and Honecker
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 1): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 1): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 2): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 2): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 3): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 3): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 4): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 4): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 5): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 5): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett, Emily V. Barnett
Monthly Archives
Powered by Squarespace
« China's car market: The global race to the middle | Main | Lenin (and all those BS neo-Marxists) turned upside down »
12:08AM

Brazil and the bomb

Der Spiegel op-ed by way of WPR's Media Roundup.

The question asked by Hans Ruhle:  Is Brazil maneuvering itself toward an acceptable pursuit of a nuclear weapon capacity?

Brazil had three nuclear weapons programs going in the 1980s--one for each military service.  After the Cold War ended, Brazil moved toward ending all that and declaring itself only for peaceful uses.

But now Brazil is building nuclear submarines.  Why?  America's got 'em, and if that's what great powers have, then Brazil must have some too.

So we have a country that's already mastered the enrichment cycle building nuclear submarines and all of a sudden--in historical terms--it's awfully close-mouthed about its enrichment cycle and doesn't care to have the IAEA snooping around.

Oh, and it's also brokering international deals WRT Iran's controversial enrichment program--alongside another rising great power (Turkey) that logically harbors nuclear ambitions as well.

For now, Brazil's constitution says no to nukes, but as everybody knows, Latin American constitutions are very changeable documents.  And with regional rival Venezuela (yes, they're rivals, no matter how much Lula sweet talks Hugo) cooperating with Iran, you just know the Brazilian military is thinking, "Why should we be the only BRIC without nukes?"

This is why, quite frankly, Obama's push for a "world without nuclear weapons" is about as wrongly timed as it gets:  we've got all these rising great powers, all looking for respect, and everything we do to prevent that path just screams at them, "get nukes and you're in!"  I mean, just look at the way we treat India on this score (as we should), in addition to Pakistan (as we shouldn't).  

We keep looking at this dynamic in Cold War terms, when we need to understand it in globalization terms. In addition to all that frontier integration, largely conducted by rising New Core pillars, we've got this crew of great powers looking for admittance into the "made men" club.  None of them can really hope to generate a conventional balance to the U.S. military, but the shortcut? 

Man, that's just too good to pass up. Honestly, we are reduced to preaching abstinence to a bunch of very horny young men.  It will not work.

We can spend all our time and energy trying to stop that dynamic, or we can focus our attention on processing their applications.

But they will all be great powers, one way or the other.

You may think it's all about America + NATO holding the line, but I think that world is dead and buried.

And I've been saying that for close to a decade in public and in print since 2004.

We can choose to have allies who cower behind their bombs to cover their declining capabilities--and age, or we can choose to work this world with allies who have plenty of babies, rising defense budgets, and growing nuclear arsenals.

Which option do you will work and which will be left behind by history as globalization continues to expand and consolidate?

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (5)

You may think it's all about America + NATO holding the line, but I think that world is dead and buried.

A timely comment, which touches on matters in yesterday's report on NATO's future direction. The report was published by NATO's expert group, led by former SofS Madeleine Albright, and recommends keeping the alliance together, growing it, operating outwith the transatlantic area, and global partnerships.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIJ

Though I am pessimistic in many respects relative to the prospects of nuclear terrorism and the potential for future Great Power problems stemming from rivalry and conflicting interests, I could not agree more with your statement that we should work "this world with allies who have plenty of babies, rising defense budgets, and growing nuclear arsenals."

That's the new reality and neither the current crop of Republicans nor, it seems, President Obama are fully recognizing and embracing this. Do you think Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger would have? It seems they may have been America's most creative diplomatists of the past half century...

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGreg R. Lawson

What will the world be like with every country rich enough to have nukes has them? No classic wars with armies, air forces and ships? Does the whole world sit around waiting for a nuke to go off in some port or city when a nuke falls in the wrong hands? What then? A nuke exchange with one side turned into a glazed parking lot?

I think we're entering dangerous times and Obama doesn't seem to understand. Not just to blame him, the left, where Obama is firmly pegged, sees the US with nuclear deterrent as the problem instead of nuclear proliferation around the world as the true danger.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Michels

I love this line:

"Honestly, we are reduced to preaching abstinence to a bunch of very horny young men. It will not work."

LOL

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnthonyB

The report yesterday on NATO's future strategy doesn't mention the unsustainable financing arrangements of the existing military alliance, let alone a grander alliance. At present the largest member of the alliance - the United States - seems to have its policing actions funded as you suggested some time ago by big exporters in Asia; an implicit agreement that they would take their trade surplus and flow it back into US debt instruments.

However the expert group is more concerned that NATO might go rogue. The most important partnership the group says is with its overlord, the United Nations. In this connection Britain's Chilcot inquiry is coming to the US to question the background to the invasion of Iraq.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIJ

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>