Brazil received some pretty bad economic news yesterday. In my latest (exceedingly well timed) WPR piece, I talk a bit about how Brazil’s apparent aspirations to influence don’t fit very well with the decaying Brazilian Navy:
The Brazilian navy is weak compared to the rest of the BRICs, and because of its age, the force is falling farther behind. There is nothing wrong with a nation choosing to maintain a relatively small navy. Money spent on weapons is often better spent on other priorities. The experience of 1910 is not something that Brazilians, much less Chileans and Argentinians, wish to repeat, and Brazil does not currently face any critical maritime security threat.
However, recent rhetoric from Brazil suggests an interest in playing a larger role on the global stage. And though Brazil benefits from the maritime security umbrella provided by the United States Navy, its complaints about the U.S. Fourth Fleet seem to indicate unhappiness with the U.S. Navy’s continued pre-eminence in the Western Hemisphere. The Brazilian government must choose between aligning its international expectations with the resources it is willing to dedicate to defense, or aligning its defense expenditures with its global ambitions. If Brazil does not desire to play a major maritime role, it should discard its aging carrier and forego plans for an expensive nuclear submarine, opting instead for a smaller, more compact, but more modern force. If Brazil wants to play in the same league with the other BRICs, then it needs to shift its procurement priorities soon before it gets left too far behind.