Brazil and Iran have been expressing a need to react to and counter American intelligence priorities and initiatives. Brazil and Iran understand the importance of shared ideas in order to develop allied relationships. Furthermore, both countries are in search for recognition as a ‘source of power,’ but continue to proceed with caution regarding this potentially dangerous strategic vision.
First, Brazil has been concentrating for decades to strengthen regional ties in areas like Sao Tome e Principe, Namibia, and Cape Verde. Brazil examined the internal and external views within the South Atlantic region to support its strategic vision of becoming a global power. Whelan explains “internal and external contingencies contribute to the creation and, more particularly, re-creating of network structure” (33). By creating early relationships with the South Atlantic region, Brazil is establishing a new ‘network structure’ within the region that could be somewhat independent of the United States. Brazil is also pursuing the establishment of policies to advance their initiatives in securing offshore oil assets while constraining external global powers, such as the U.S. and China (Beatriz, de Matos, and Kenkel, 263). Brazil feels justified in establishing a presence within the South Atlantic region to secure resources, thus enhancing their own competitive economic growth within the global economy. As Malamud explains:
“Brazil tactically recognized it was unable to exert a significant influence on the whole continent and was thereby ready to focus on a smaller area…the South Atlantic region, which was less dependent on the United States, giving Brazil room to maneuver.”
Since the United States is less involved within these regions, Brazil has influence to secure these economic resources. Furthermore, this allows Brazil to establish new alliances, balance power throughout the region, and identify with states that have common interests.
Brazil is securing the South Atlantic region through acknowledging drug-trade problems, human rights issues, and transnational threats to overshadow regional economic agreements. Although Brazil has the same priorities in combating transnational threats as the U.S., such as combating piracy, the transnational drug-trade, and human trafficking, it also needs to strategically counter the U.S. becoming a primary source of regional power. Armstrong explains “proactive constituencies espouse approaches that their opponents claim overshadow more important issues” (2007). Brazil is aware of US interest in regional security and its soft power “aimed at building a stable security environment.” Brazil must strive to establish agreements in the South Atlantic region before the United States or other powers with regional influence by understanding and analyzing the interests and initiatives of the United States and outperforming them in terms of their own proposals and ideas.
Brazil has utilized the importance of “shared ideas, meanings, identities and social contexts in understanding the consolidation of cooperative ties, or adversarial relations, among actors” (Beatriz, de Matos, and Kenkel, 265). It is essential for Brazil to keep the initiatives of the United States at its forefront to protect their own access to valuable economic resources. Brazil is establishing a means, through raw materials and resources, to become an economic competitor with countries such as the United States and China. “Brazil is gifted with immense reserves of natural resources, and biodiversity products” (Almeida, 9). Brazil may be able to surreptitiously obtain a regional power status that has influence on the global scale through such strategies.
Second, Iran is seeking regional influence through maintaining a relationship with Turkey. In the past, Iran has analyzed its enemies to determine when the enemy regime is at its weakest. Arsenault explains “several strategies seek to take advantage of rivals’ regime weaknesses and therefore should be pursued only when the target states have the expected level of regime instability” (2017). Iran recognizes the necessity to examine the errors of other nations within the Middle East to exert its influence over the region.
Iran continues to examine its enemies to find an opportune point of influence. One of Iran’s major targets is Israel, of which it has inflicted substantial damage with the alliance of Hamas and Hezbollah (Arsenault, 2017). Iran pursues an enemy (Israel) the U.S. has continued to support and attempts to stabilize through diplomatic solutions and military alliance (Binnendijk, 133). The U.S. continued to support Israel from the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons. However, currently, Iran and the United States share common interests to include “an interest in the free flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz and cooperation to defeat ISIS, a common enemy among both nations (Binnendijk, 35). Although Iran seeks to defeat ISIS, it has simultaneously established and constructed political leaders within other terrorist organizations to support and obey their own national interests.
Iran’s interaction with the United States could just be an example of examining the enemy from a strategic viewpoint. Iran is aware of the United States’ support to Israel and its National Defense Strategy to combat terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah. Yet, Iran continues to develop relationships with such extreme organizations. Kazemzadeh explains (57):
“The Lebanese Hezbollah considers the supreme leader of Iran to be its ultimate political leader. This means that the Lebanese Hezbollah would go to war or accept peace not by the order of the president of Lebanon but by the order of the supreme leader of Iran.”
Iran must ‘balance power’ between keeping relative peace with the United States while trying to get Israel to succumb to its overarching goals. Iran understands to achieve its goals it is essential to employ proxy partners. However, when the Obama administration removed troops from Iraq, Iran saw an opportunity to exploit Iraq at its most unstable moment by filling the vacuum (Kazemzadeh, 62). Although smaller states believe Iran poses a serious threat to regional and global security, they are too weak to stand up to Iran. Iran is continuing to exploit the present weaknesses of American power in order to achieve its objective of gaining regional power throughout the Middle East.
In conclusion, Brazil and Iran both have deep-seated objectives and have been patiently waiting decades to carry out their strategic plans. Both nations have found a way to either distract US attention away from the region or exploit a hole within plans of the United States. In the case of Brazil, it has aimed at targeting the South Atlantic region to gain economic power, which does not heavily rely on the United States for support. In the case of Iran, they have patiently waited to exploit the removal of troops in Iraq. These are the first strategic steps Brazil and Iran have taken to counter U.S. priorities and initiatives. Both countries recognize the importance of establishing relationships to expand their regional influence. Ultimately, Brazil and Iran have taken advantage of opportunities while American attention was preoccupied elsewhere.