350. Telegram From the Ambassador in Brazil (Briggs) to the Department of State1
Current dissatisfaction Brazilian Military rests on two grounds (1) US deliveries too small and long delayed and (2) US failure acknowledge and treat Brazil as more important than any other country Latin America. This message addressed primarily to second allegation.
Argument that Brazil is our “best and most valuable friend and ally” based on following premises: (1) Tremendously large country, nearly one-half of South America, rapidly growing population now 60 million, tremendous natural resources and expanding economy—all adding up to fact that Brazil is only Latin country likely at early date become world power; (2) Strategic importance of Brazil under present world conditions, manifested in World War II and now underlined by our interest in Fernando Noronha facilities; (3) Brazil our traditional friend and ally, standing by US in two world wars when chips were down. (While this theme played locally is monotonously repetitive it is nevertheless eloquently supported by record.)
I believe that many of our difficulties and headaches in relations with Brazil would be resolved if we were to adopt as policy thesis that Brazil is our “first friend and ally” among American Republics. I appreciate suggestion raises practical question of implementation in terms military collaboration and assistance. We can probably demonstrate that Brazil has already received more military assistance than any other Latin American country. It can also be maintained, however, that extent of our assistance not commensurate with relative importance of Brazil vis-à-vis these other countries, its importance to US strategically and otherwise in the present context of world affairs, nor adequate to enable Brazil meet hemispheric defense commitments undertaken at our insistent urging (re latter point reference 1952 MDA agreement and related secret agreement covering Brazilian commitments).4
In present situation it is not convincing to Brazilian military to cite dollar cost figures of equipment furnished. What is convincing [Page 732] in their eyes is physical end product available to them. (For example, decision to offer Brazilian Navy 2 destroyers, 2 submarines and 3 years from now 1 minesweeper, in comparison with 2 destroyers and 2 submarines for Chile, is most unlikely favorably impress Brazilian Navy.)
I recognize that adoption policy based on “first friend and ally” concept may perhaps create initial difficulties with other neighbors, notably Argentina. However, I believe time has come when we should recognize reality of Brazil’s emergence as dominant Latin American power. While Department will have better estimate than possible here, my experience is that Latinos know how to accept fait accompli, especially when it has solid basis.
Since foregoing issue will inevitably arise in connection with impending review our military relations with Brazil, I suggest basic policy decision should precede study of specific Brazilian requests.
Acceptance “Brazil first friend and ally” thesis in military field presupposes same thing in economic collaboration but there de facto Brazil has no valid complaint in contrast treatment other Republics, even though Brazil now seeking additional US assistance. Ditto political field.