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Aspirational Power

Brazil on the Long Road to Global Influence

By David R. Mares and Harold A. Trinkunas
Aspirational Power

Brazil’s soft power path to major power status

The largest country in South America by land mass and population, Brazil has been marked since its independence by a belief that it has the potential to play a major role on the global stage. Set apart from the rest of the hemisphere by culture, language, and history, Brazil has also been viewed by its neighbors as a potential great power and, at times, a threat. But even though domestic aspirations and foreign perceptions have held out the prospect for Brazil becoming a major power, the country has lacked the capabilities—particularly on the military and economic dimensions—to pursue a traditional path to greatness.

Aspirational Power examines Brazil as an emerging power. It explains Brazil’s present emphasis on using soft power through a historical analysis of Brazil’s three past attempts to achieve major power status. Though these efforts have fallen short, this book suggests that Brazil will continue to try to emerge, but that it will only succeed when its domestic institutions provide a solid and attractive foundation for the deployment of its soft power abroad. Aspirational Power concludes with concrete recommendations for how Brazil might improve its strategy, and why the great powers, including the United States, should respond positively to Brazil’s emergence.


Praise for Aspirational Power

Mares and Trinkunas have produced an insightful and highly readable overview of Brazil’s foreign relations. Doubly framed against Brazil’s specific aspirations (the country is neither a rule maker nor a rule taker, but a ‘rule shaper’) and the dilemmas facing all emerging powers in the 21st century, the book successfully links together both the foundational myths of Brazilian foreign policy and the specific objectives that drive it today. In equal parts accessible and sophisticated, the book displays a contextually sensitive understanding of Brazilian politics and policymakers.
—Timothy J. Power, University of Oxford

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