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Hardening Brazil’s Soft Power

BRASILIA – It is, perhaps, a truism for Brazil’s citizens that their country is and always will be a peaceful one. After all, Brazil has lived with its ten neighbors without conflict for almost 150 years, having settled its borders through negotiation. It last went to war in 1942, after direct aggression by Nazi U-boats in the South Atlantic. It has forsworn nuclear weapons, having signed a comprehensive nuclear-safeguards agreement with Argentina and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Through the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) and the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), Brazil is helping to integrate the region politically, economically, socially, and culturally.

But is soft power enough for one of the world’s major emerging countries?

To be sure, Brazil’s peaceful foreign policy has served it well. Brazil has used its stature to advance peace and cooperation in South America and beyond. Its constructive stance derives from a worldview that accords pride of place to the values of democracy, social justice, economic development, and environmental protection.

Brazil’s unique approach to promoting these ideals is an important source of its soft power, reflected in the broad international support that placed Brazilians atop international institutions like the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Trade Organization.