On 8 May, President Trump notified policymakers of his designation of Brazil as a “Major Non-NATO Ally.”
In a letter to Congress, Trump wrote: “I am making this designation in recognition of the Government of Brazil’s recent commitments to increase defense cooperation with the United States, and in recognition of our own national interest in deepening our defense coordination with Brazil.”
This move should not be that surprising. Trump has been alluding to increasing defense cooperation with Brazil for some time. Two months ago, during Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to Washington, Trump told reporters at a joint press conference that he was taking steps to “greatly advance security and cooperation between our countries.”
The important point to consider here is the timing, and how Trump’s announcement coincides with the major challenge in the region, namely the Venezuelan crisis.
The Trump administration has been increasingly eluding to taking a path of intervention to put an end to the deepening catastrophe in Venezuela. Vice President Mike Pence recently stopped just short of threatening invasion by American forces. The thing is, while the United States as well as the rest of the free world want nothing more for Venezuela than for the fall of the Maduro regime, there is a realistic recognition that such an outcome cannot and should not be brought about by U.S. troops. Any aggressive intervention in the country would have to be at the hands of local nations, countries that are directly threatened and most strongly affected by a Venezuela in turmoil, Brazil being the strongest nation on the continent militarily speaking. It is in America’s interests, now more than ever, to solidify strong defense ties. Trump has no doubt been working on the effort for some time. A partnership with Brasilia will be a key asset in efforts to bring about real change for the Venezuelan people.