The reaction in this country to Lula's meeting with Ahmedinejad has been predictable: hysterical and hyperbolic. For so long, the United States has cornered the market on the projection of raw power as a substitute for diplomacy in pursuit of its vital interests that it is shocked!, I say, shocked! when a putative ally decides that its own vital interests do not always conform and align with those of U.S. military belligerence in the greater Middle East. In short, the critics should sit down, take a look in the mirror, and STFU. The days of dictation in place of conversation are over.
Brazil is speaking and doing business with Iran for the same reason the United States sold weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein; poured millions in aid to the Pakistani military which openly collaborates with the Taliban and gave direct assistance to the 9/11 terrorists; and held hands with Saudi despots whose nationals perpetrated the greatest terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and who fund madrasas that breed suicide bombers to kill U.S. troops.
Brazil's nuclear program is much more advanced than Iran's, with the caveat that Brazil made public its determination to renounce development of a weaponized nuclear program. Brazil wasn't forced or intimidated to do so. It was a rational and civilized state decision: It isn't threatened militarily by any of its neighbors, and it can't possibly compete with the nuclear might of the United States any more than India, Pakistan, Israel, France, Britain, and China can. These are all regional nuclear states that are not on a par with the United States and its only credible nuclear deterrent state, Russia.
Brazil supports the U.S. goal of non-proliferation, containment of the nuclear states club to its current status quo, and gradual draw-down of nuclear weapons held by the nuclear states. At the same time, Brazil asserts it has earned a seat at the UN Security Council. It has a constructive diplomatic role to play toward achieving real and lasting peace in the Middle East for these reasons:
- Brazil can be a genuine honest broker;
- Its growing economic ties with the Middle East and absence from U.S.-European colonialist history in the region give it real bargaining power and influence to effect a lasting peace among warring parties; and
- As a non-nuclear power with an advanced peaceful nuclear energy program, Brazil has more credibility with Iran to move it away from weaponization than nuclear powers that seek to impose their will on Iran with threats of military intervention.
Let the games begin!