The revelation that Brazil has been the NSA’s largest target of U.S. spying in the hemisphere, after the people of the United States itself, should come as no surprise. To the U.S. foreign policy establishment, Brazil is just another South American country with a left government that it doesn’t want – only bigger.
It’s true that the NSA has been spying heavily on the more loyal and even slavishly obedient governments of the European Union, some of this apparently done for commercial purposes. But Washington’s interests in Brazil are different, and nobody should be fooled by such niceties as Dilma’s planned state visit in October.
There is a part of Brazil’s elite that wants to believe that Washington sees Brazil differently from its left-governed neighbors such as Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, or Uruguay; and that if Brazil distances itself from these countries it will be treated differently. This is a fantasy. Especially since Lula was elected in 2002 and began to pursue an independent foreign policy, Brazil has been an obstacle to Washington’s Cold War strategy of “rollback,” i.e. restoring its supremacy in the United States’ “back yard.”
Although the U.S. has a foreign commercial policy in such fora as the WTO that is driven by private corporate interests, its overall foreign relations are primarily determined by the aim of strengthening and preserving its empire. For this reason Washington’s most important goal is that all countries ally with its foreign policy. In recent years, the U.S. supported the overthrow of democratically elected governments in Venezuela, and successfully in Honduras, Paraguay, and yes even impoverished Haiti, not because of business interests but because it wanted governments in line with its overall strategy for the region.
It is good to see Senators from both the PT and opposition parties calling for Brazil to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, the heroic whistleblower who provided Brazil and the world with this vital information. As Amnesty International has declared, the U.S. government is committing “gross violations of his human rights” by trying to block him from seeking asylum. It was principled and courageous for Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua to offer him asylum, and Brazil should join them. None of these countries is looking for a fight with the U.S., and if Brazil joins them, such a fight is less likely – the U.S. backed down quickly from its threats to China and Russia after they ignored Washington’s extradition requests.
Hopefully the government will follow through on its plans to investigate the violation of its own citizens’ rights. Now might be a good time to also investigate the U.S. government’s efforts inside Brazil to weaken the Workers’ Party in 2005, which were revealed in U.S. government documents and reported in this newspaper. The reason that the U.S. government does all this illegal spying is so it can use the information it gathers against its adversaries. These “adversaries” are usually ordinary citizens and their organizations – both at home and abroad.
It is also good that Dilma expressed her strong solidarity with Bolivia in the outrageous violation of that country’s sovereignty last week, by European powers who, acting as thugs for Washington, diverted President Evo Morales’ plane. Solidarity among the independent governments in the region is the only way that this independence can be preserved.