Ms. Rousseff Goes to the White House

One of Lula’s foreign policy advisors told a friend of mine that when Brazil looks at Iran, it doesn’t see just Iran, it also sees Brazil.

— Larry Rohter, New York Times reporter in interview

Barack Obama recently visited with current Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. President Obama didn’t receive her, however, with the kind of pomp and circumstance, that has been given to nations like Indian and China. President Rousseff only met with Obama in a brief meeting, she did not receive a state dinner, and Obama spent most of the day rolling Easter eggs on the South Lawn. While CEOs, university presidents, and even the Chamber of Commerce — were literally chomping at the bit to meet with her — Obama seemed to be very low key and nonplussed about his meeting with this extraordinarily capable and singular woman. What could be the reasons/reasoning for such a cold shoulder, from our 44th and current president and commander-in-chief?

Could it be that Brazil has advocated for the cause of Palestinian statehood, that it has traditionally had amicable relations with Iran, that it is a member of CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), or that it has pressured the US to include Cuba in the meetings of the OAS (Organization of American States)? Indeed, Brazil is currently involved in an $800 million modernization project of the western harbor of Havana.

Additionally, Brazil has inquired to the US government about a permanent position on the United Nations Security Council, and the US has not responded with support. Brazil also gave refuge to Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in its embassy, after the takeover (of the US-supported) coup regime. Furthermore, President Rousseff has been a cutting and incisive critic of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy, and moreover China has still fairly recently emerged as Brazil’s chief, cardinal — number one and foremost — trading partner/associate. A writer in the Financial Times, has even likened Brazil to the France of Latin America. Not obstructing US hegemony, and an attempted unimpeded global power monopoly; out of any sound principle, or deeply held belief or vision, but according to this bourgeois analyst, “[Brazil is] undermining our initiatives in Iran or over trade talks… [as a] way of forcing us to pay attention to them.”

Perhaps Obama thinks that Brazil, should be like a child bouncing on his leg (like the aforementioned FT “pundit”)? Is Brazil’s insufficient fealty to the Monroe Doctrine, and diktats coming from its “superior” northern nation, actually what ails this bilateral rapport/interrelationship? Perhaps, it’s simple envy as Rousseff enjoys a 77% approval rating, she has been seen as an effective battler of corruption, and Brazil’s economy — under her watch — is now considered to be the sixth largest in the world.

In comparison, Obama is trying to sell a non-existent recovery and that the Republicans are absolutely, totally, and utterly crazy, in order to win himself a reelection. Rather than languid then, perhaps Obama should have been absolutely ecstatic at the prospect of meeting with the categorically more than serviceable Brazilian President. Unequivocally, Obama is far from Rousseff’s popularity, dynamism, and overall effectiveness, but seemingly, it was far more important to him to be rolling multi-colored Easter eggs on the White House South Lawn than to be meeting with such an effectual stateswoman, dignitary, and noteworthy head of government.

Sean Fenley is an independent progressive who would like to see the end of the dictatorial duopoly of the so-called two party adversarial system. He would also like to see some sanity brought to the creation and implementation of current and future U.S. military, economic, foreign and domestic policies. Read other articles by Sean.