Although Brazil and the United States have long regarded each
other sympathetically, relations between the two countries have
been adversely affected by geographical distance, language
barriers, and cultural indifference. In this comprehensive
overview, Joseph Smith examines the history of Brazil-U.S.
relations from the early nineteenth century to the present
With the exception of commerce, notably the coffee trade,
there was relatively little contact between the countries during
the nineteenth century. A convergence of national interests took
place during the first decade of the twentieth century and was
exemplified in Brazil's strategy of "approximating" its foreign
policy to that pursued by the United States. In return, Brazil
expected economic gains and diplomatic support for its ambition to
be the leading power in South America. But U.S. leaders were
cautious and self-serving. Brazil was treated as a special ally,
according to Smith, but only at times of major crisis such as the
two world wars.
As the twentieth century progressed, friction developed over
programs of U.S. financial assistance and efforts to deal with the
threat of communism. Recently there have been disagreements over
Brazil's determination to take its rightful place as a global
economic player and regional leader. Nonetheless history reveals
that these two giant nations of the Western Hemisphere share
national interests that they realize are best served by maintaining
a friendly, cooperative relationship.
Subjects: History, Political Science
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