It’s the year 2065.
The world has just suffered World War 3 in which the US, Canada, all of Europe, China and India have been blown off the map by nuclear weapons.
But yet one country stands above the blood and bones of 3 billion who died.
A country in South America that nobody expected to rise again.
Reclaim its former title of “empire.”
That is Brazil.
A country that, despite its difficulties, is one of the few countries left with any economic, military, cultural and political strength.
And, surprisingly to its locals, has managed to not fuck up the opportunity.
Becoming the next great super power.
Brazil as a Superpower?
Back when I was in college, there was discussion of “the BRIC.”
Those being Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Countries that many saw back then as “rising powers.”
Soon to be superpowers?
Left up to your imagination.
Though, as we see now, it does seem like the world is slowly turning to another Cold War in my opinion between the US and China.
Hopefully I’m wrong but, at least in my eyes, it looks quite possible at the very least.
But what about those other countries on the list?
Will Brazil ever become a superpower?
It’s a question some have pondered such as in this article on Brookings here.
Among all of the other online discussion about this topic!
Well, I think there are ways to look at it but let’s first define what is a superpower.
What is a Superpower?
According to Wikipedia here, this is the definition of a superpower:
“A superpower is a state with a dominant position characterized by its extensive ability to exert influence or project power on a global scale. This is done through the combined means of economic, military, technological, political and cultural strength as well as diplomatic and soft power influence. Traditionally, superpowers are preeminent among the great powers.”
With that definition in mind, let’s move forward by looking at the arguments made online regarding this topic and also some of my own thoughts thrown into the mix.
As many have pointed out like in this article here, Brazil has plenty of natural resources.
“Brazil is rich in a variety of natural resources and is the world's leading producer of tin, iron ore and phosphate. It has large deposits of diamonds, manganese, chromium, copper, bauxite and many other minerals. However, the country has no significant oil reserves.”
And, as this article pointed out here, one of the most important resources going forward into this century will be water.
There are many resources online pointing out how access to water will likely even be a cause of war in this century as you can see here.
Even high government officials, like VP Kamala Harris, has said that “wars fought over water” will be a clear possibility in the future as you can see here.
In regards to Brazil, they actually have plenty of access to fresh water as you can see in this source here:
“Brazil is a great paradox in the field of water access: it has 12% of the fresh surface water reserves of the planet, but its cities experience the most serious supply problems".
And, as you can see here, Brazil actually has the highest volume of fresh water in the world compared to any other country:
“Brazil has the highest volume of renewable fresh water resources, totaling approximately 8,233 cubic kilometers.”
Though, to be fair, there’s a difference between having a natural resource and knowing how to manage it properly.
As those last two articles pointed out, even with all the water Brazil has, it still has logistical and administrative issues when it comes to handling the resource properly to provide to its own citizens.
Still, the importance of that resource and the abundance that Brazil has can’t be understated.
Only a few years ago, French President Macron supposedly called into question the idea of intervening in Brazil militarily to save the Amazon given the news of deforestation increasingly becoming a much bigger threat in relation to climate change and water resources in the region.
“The world's biggest rainforest, which has been hit by nearly 90,000 fires this year, plays a vital role in the regulation of the world's climate and water resources, scientists say.”
Of course, it should also be mentioned that simply having natural resources doesn’t mean your country is going to be a superpower.
There’s plenty of countries with an abundance of natural resources but they become overly reliant on those natural resources.
Consequently, they never industrialize to the levels needed and suffer from boom and bust cycles consistently while corrupt elites domestically fill their own pockets with the money involved.
The Resource Curse as you can read here.
Anyway, this source here shows Brazil at number 3 for agricultural production in the world.
Still, outside of natural resources and agriculture, Brazil has other things going for it.
As this article here cites, Brazil is number 13 when it comes to nominal GDP in the world.
Then you have this source here showing Brazil as being number 6 in the world for total population.
Which, in short, can be beneficial to a country economically for various reasons.
Of course, not every country with a high population count has much going for it like Bangladesh sitting two steps below Brazil.
Still, a higher population can produce more tax payers, consumers, workers and more.
But is Brazil’s population continuing or will it face a demographic crisis other countries like China, Japan, various countries in Europe and others are facing?
Where the population is declining and aging with serious consequences for economic growth.
Well, according to this source here, Brazil is ranked at 152 out of 200 for fertility rate with its fertility rate being at 1.648.
That’s not very promising in the long run.
Finally, we mentioned the topic of industrialization.
While Brazil has much potential with natural resources and agricultural production, does it produce a lot of anything else?
Well, this source here doesn’t even put Brazil in the top 10 for industrial output.
Outside of that, you have this academic article here claiming the following:
“A few of the main findings in this research are as follows: despite being among the top 20 countries in scientific production in Engineering, Brazil still lacks turning this scientific-technological knowledge into products and patents;”
And, to be fair, you can find real world examples of Brazil producing things beyond commodities and agricultural goods like with airplanes from the Brazilian company Embraer S.A.
As you can see here, Brazil also has its own automotive industry with the production of vehicles.
Among some other technological goods!
In many ways, Brazil has some deficiencies economically to be a superpower but, compared to most Latin American countries, it does have a lot more potential.
Still, there are many other economic factors we could’ve considered like socioeconomic inequality for example (which the US also has plenty of).
To inflation rates and everything else under the sun.
But let’s move forward for the time being.
If you have anything you’d like to add regarding the economics, drop a comment below in the comment section.
In order to be a superpower, one has to be able to project its military strength globally.
It has to have allies internationally that work with them.
There’s a need for military bases around the world to allow easier access to project strength across any continent on the planet.
A strong domestic military industry.
A strong military!
Does Brazil have any signs of having any of that?
Well, according to this article here, the domestic arms industry in Brazil isn’t the worst thing on the planet:
“Brazil has a substantial domestic arms industry, and was the 24th biggest exporter of major conventional weapons between 2008-2017. It hosts a major biennial arms fair, LAAD Defence and Security, which is strongly supported by the Brazilian government and armed forces.”
Next, we have to understand the strength of their military.
Now, this is hard to estimate because there are different factors to take into consideration like the experience their military has in warfare (almost none compared to most countries since Brazil isn’t at war) to how much money they spend on their military.
And, just to keep in mind, plenty of lists online give their own calculations as to who has the better military.
Anyway, based on what I looked up briefly, I think this source here isn’t the worst in the world where it ranks Brazil at number 9 for military strength.
Of course, to be fair, you have other lists like this one here that doesn’t even rank Brazil in the top 20!
Now, given the economic and population strength of Brazil, I’d be willing to bet they are higher than number 20 but maybe not right below where the UK is?
Especially given that they don’t even have nuclear weapons.
Which, in my opinion, to be a superpower requires having nuclear weapons these days.
Brazil has no nuclear weapons.
Still, there are reasons to believe that Brazil’s military can handle an invasion of a small country like Paraguay.
Hehe jaja hehe jaja Triple Alliance War Reference Hehe jaja hehe jaja
For example, this source here shows different studies showing Brazil either being at number 13 or number 15 in the world when it comes to total amount of money spent on their military.
And, when taken into account their population and economic size, maybe putting them somewhere near number 9 like that one list said isn’t so crazy?
Plus, if you want a breakdown of Brazil’s military capabilities when it comes to things like airfare, navy, land forces and much more, then just check this resource out here that justifies its number 9 ranking in the world for military.
So, regardless of where we put Brazil militarily, we can say it’s not a weak country but it’s not anywhere close to number 1 at the moment either.
Then we have the topic of military bases to project military power abroad.
According to this source, Brazil isn’t even listed as a country with military bases abroad.
With this source here showing, from what I can guess, all of their military bases being in Brazil only.
And, in order to project military power, having an aircraft carrier would help!
For Brazil, they apparently don’t have any in commission as you can see here.
Then we have the topic of intelligence agencies and their role in advancing a country’s security interests.
As far as I could tell online, the Brazilian intelligence agency, known as the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, isn’t known among the top intelligence agencies on the planet.
Finally, do we have military alliances involving Brazil?
From what I could tell, there’s two that ever existed according to this source here.
One dating back to the War of Triple Alliance.
So that’s not too useful today.
And some other one they had with the US.
In short, the Brazilian military capabilities has a lot going for it but a lot left to be desired.
It has no nuclear weapons, no aircraft carriers, no oversees military bases, an intelligence agency that isn’t among the best in the world and no military alliances.
But it does have relative strength compared to most militaries on the planet.
And, as always, things could change militarily.
About 50 years ago, China was a very different country than it is today and grew immensely.
Brazil is way ahead of where China was back then in 1970 from my understanding and could grow in a way to eventually allow its military capabilities (and economic power) prosper even more.
But that's left to be seen in the future.
In order to be a superpower, you have to also get other countries aligned with you.
You need good diplomacy.
As General Mattis of the US once said: “if State Department funding gets cut 'then I need to buy more ammunition.”
Now, when it comes to Brazil, I don’t know how much money they spend on their respective version of a State Department.
I couldn’t find any information on that.
What about how much money Brazil gives to foreign countries?
Here’s an interesting quote on the subject of some data regarding that:
“As policymakers and observers discuss the practices of non-DAC donors and their intentions, many of those donors are meanwhile becoming increasingly wealthy and increasingly involved in aid. A recent Economist article on Brazil’s vast, and growing, development funds pegged the total amount for 2010 near $4 billion, which the author suggested is “similar to generous donors such as Sweden and Canada.” For most readers, it’s a surprising comparison, and it has already been used in further discussions of Brazil’s aid.
However, the Economist’s comparison is somewhat misleading. Total aid figures for most Western donors are calculated according to the definition of Official Development Finance (ODA) set by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee’s definition of Official Development (DAC) . In 2008, the last year of DAC statistics available, Canada and Sweden spent $5.5 billion and $4.2 billion USD on foreign aid, respectively. Applying ODA guidelines to Brazil’s aid calls into question the $3.3 billion in loans by the BNDES. According to the DAC, an ODA-eligible loan is “concessional in character and conveys a grant element of at least 25 per cent”. Without project level data specifying the interest rate, repayment schedule, and grace period, it’s impossible to calculate the grant element of the BNDES’ loans. Dropping them completely puts Brazil’s foreign aid budget back to $1.2 billion, closer to the company of Finland, Ireland, and new DAC member Korea.
OK, so they don’t send that much aid to other countries!
Any diplomatic issues to be concerned with to wrap this up?
Well, as you can see here, there’s various issues that Brazilian diplomats have had to contend with as they manage their international relations with the rest of the world:
“Exclusion from investment opportunities, difficulties in trade negotiations and in relations with neighboring countries, barriers that did not exist as the diplomat points out, should only intensify.
“It’s not positive in any way to be an international pariah. Being excluded from round tables, being alone in the corner while the countries that make up the biggest parcel of world GDP are elsewhere negotiating international rules and norms, defining commercial flows, investments and partnerships”, said Freitas.
Without the Republican in the White House, the diplomat believes that though the United States will continue to be an imperialist and interventionist power, the Bolsonaro government will face bigger challenges in relation to human rights and environmental questions, since their conservative positions on these matters are already criticized on a global level.
“Because the bet on Trump was so big, without a doubt the two governments will have to try and build new channels of dialogue. But in the short term, the environmental issue may turn out to be an Achilles heel in the relationship between Brazil and United States. Since the U.S influences the entire world, they will probably influence Brazil’s relations with the world at large”.
So, in short, it seems that Brazil might be having some diplomatic issues currently.
Though, in the long run, I think this could be resolved. International politics changes all the time.
The most concerning part about their diplomatic outreach, at least from my brief look into this, is regarding the money and influence that their respective State Department has or doesn’t have and also the lack of foreign aid to influence other countries.
Still, let’s move on!
This is another one people consider when it comes to superpowers.
Their ability to project the national culture abroad.
Being honest, I’m not sure how to evaluate this one.
Part of me thinks it comes after you have already become a superpower diplomatically, militarily, politically and economically.
With all of the above, it’d be easier to project one’s culture elsewhere.
Be it how domestic TV shows and movies get spread elsewhere.
To international businesses (fast food and others) who can more easily set up shop in other countries.
Your country’s citizens are richer and travel more frequently abroad.
All around, easier to spread the culture.
So I’ll leave this one alone for now because, in part, I think it comes more when the other factors are working in your favor already.
Is there a certain political system one needs to advance to superpower status?
Well, China isn’t the most democratic country on the planet and the Soviet Union wasn’t either.
Plus, from my understanding, many of the European colonial powers like Spain or the UK were not necessarily the most democratic either at their prime.
So I don’t agree that you need to be a democratic country to be a superpower.
Some might argue that a non-democratic country has a harder time gaining the trust or approval of other countries.
Though having lots of money helps fix that to a degree, I think.
And we have examples of not so democratic countries rising to strength.
China is a great example of that nowadays.
Though, on the flip side, one could argue that many non-democratic countries collapse quicker than democratic ones.
Is that true?
Well, there’s this interesting video here that briefly mentions that point about how non-democratic countries have a harder time not facing strong internal issues that cause the country to deteriorate quicker than others.
Where they burn out quicker in general than democratic countries.
Is Brazil a democracy anyway?
Yes, it is!
Though it’s not perfect.
Some fear that Bolsonaro will reach for a coup as you can see here.
Not saying he will or not but we’ll leave that concern alone on the side for now until proven otherwise.
What about corruption anyway?
Well, there are different rankings out there.
Each country ranks a little bit different by the study.
According to this one here, Brazil ranks 94 in the world for corruption.
And other studies you can find online don’t rank Brazil very positively on this issue.
Therefore, when it comes to being a superpower, Brazil has some work to do on the political front at least.
Climate Change Factor
The world is changing at a pretty fast pace and the issue of climate change will be one to consider when it comes to who will be a superpower in the next century.
Some look at the most northern countries of the planet, like Russia, Canada, Denmark, Sweden and others for having the most potential given their geographic advantage.
Brazil, as we know obviously, isn’t anywhere near the north.
Granted, some consider southern most countries as having some advantage too.
But, in Latin America, that’d be more fitting for Chile or Argentina.
So Brazil isn’t necessarily in the best place on the planet when it comes to the predicted changes we’ll see with climate change.
Within a Latin American context, as I wrote here, Brazil is apparently the 6th most prepared country to adapt to the predicted impacts of climate change among Latin countries.
With Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Mexico and Colombia being ahead of Brazil.
From what I could understand in articles like this one here, predicted impacts for Brazil will include parts of the Amazon turning into a Savannah, decreased rainfall, more drought, more forest fires, increased temperatures and more.
As we said before, Brazil already suffers from drought like conditions and mismanagement of its water system so we’ll see how that plays out then going forward.
Anyway, the conditions from climate change seem to be worse for Brazil than countries better suited to be “superpowers” and Brazil isn’t in the best spot geographically going forward from my understanding.
Any Bad Neighbors?
While Brazil has competition in some ways with Argentina, it really doesn’t have any strong neighbors in South America that can fuck it up too badly.
When it comes to evaluating if Brazil will ever become a superpower, that’s part of the equation.
For example, China is rising but it has India and Russia next door.
Both of whom can cause issues for China, especially when climate change hurts that region even more.
With more Chinese people migrating to Russia near the border and questions of how that'll impact Chinese-Russian relations.
And the complications that can cause China to have border disputes with India in relation to issues like access to water.
Similarly, Europe has a long history of great powers fucking each other up as they are located next to each other.
In contrast, one of the reasons for why the US became such a great power was geography!
They didn’t have any real enemies next door that could fuck them up most of the time.
Similarly, Brazil doesn’t really have any super strong countries next to it.
The main issue it has is the US way above that can project its power anywhere in the world and would have an easier time projecting it into South America than elsewhere.
Where the US has historically seen all of the Americas as its backyard.
Therefore, when it comes to Brazil becoming a superpower, just like with any superpower, they’ll have to contend with “what is their backyard?”
From my understanding, every superpower has a backyard that it projects its power onto the greatest before expanding onto the rest of the world.
With the US so close by, it’s harder to see how Brazil contends with that if it ever wishes to be a superpower.
At the very least, it doesn’t have any superpower enemies specifically in South America itself.
And, on top of that, it’s similarly isolated from the rest of the world just like the US is (no China, Russia, India or the European Union right next door with a shared border).
Nuclear War Creates Opportunities?
In my opinion, this is the only way that Brazil has any realistic shot at being a superpower for any period of time.
It basically needs what benefited the US post World War 2 – the rest of the world fucking itself up.
After World War 2, you had the US geographically isolated while all of Europe and the more powerful Asian countries being blown into pieces (China and Japan).
With no country in Africa and Latin America to compete with the US (and many in Africa were still colonies or gained independence around this century)….
The US basically had limited competition outside of the Soviet Union that still had to repair itself from the devastation of the war with Nazi Germany.
The US could then project great influence with the Marshal Plan and other initiatives.
Helping cement its status as a superpower.
While a nuclear World War 3 would have great consequences for every country on the planet, it wouldn’t wipe out humanity most likely as some predict.
And, given Brazil’s lack of military alliances, it’s not likely Brazil would be bombed in such a war.
So therein lies the opportunity for Brazil to be a superpower.
If a nuclear World War 3 happened, it could likely drag China, the US, Canada and the rest of NATO (the more important European countries) down with it.
Of course, we don’t know if India would be bombed or not and they have a better shot of superpower status than Brazil.
And, on top of that, we don’t know if Brazil would get its shit together to take advantage of such an opportunity.
Just because the rest of the world is fucked from war and nuclear radiation doesn’t mean that Brazil puts in the work to exploit that.
Still, in my opinion, it’s really the only way I see Brazil becoming a true superpower.
The main countries blow each other up and Brazil exploits that.
Final Verdict: Brazil is a Regional Power or Will it Be a Superpower?
Outside of any major nuclear war helping Brazil, I don’t ever see Brazil becoming a superpower.
It simply doesn’t have the military projection nor the economic factors needed for that.
Plus, their political scenario isn’t very strong.
They don’t have strong diplomatic or cultural outreach as what a superpower would have.
Their reproductive rate isn’t at all helpful for expanding into superpower status.
No nuclear weapons.
They have a much more powerful country a little bit north of them called the US that has always seen all of the Americas as its backyard to dominate.
Therefore, they’d have a difficulty doing what superpowers do by claiming their own backyard of influence before expanding internationally.
Also, they’re not in the most favorable position geographically to deal with climate change as the countries most predicted to be superpowers from the benefits of climate change are those in the far north close to the Arctic.
Of course, some of these problems like military, economic or diplomatic capability can be fixed.
But there’s a lot of fixing needed to be done with some of the other very large issues (like nearby superpower US and climate change) that’ll make it fairly difficult for them.
Among other issues.
But Brazil is arguably a regional power in many respects right now.
I don’t see any reason why it doesn’t keep that status.
It has importance!
I just don’t see it ever becoming a superpower – at least not within the next 100 years – especially because of the climate change issue.
Anyway, that’s all I got to say.
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Thanks for reading.