This past Monday, Brazilians woke up stunned by the result of the 1st round of elections. Supporters of the current president were saddened by the defeat in the first round. However, the curious thing is that the mood in the opposition was not one of celebration, but also of anguish and concern. In other words, both sides started the week anxious and dissatisfied. Therefore, in this week’s article, I would like to reflect on what is really at stake in this year’s dispute, which will have great consequences not only for Brazil, but for the entire world.
For this, I will bring to the conversation some doctrines of geopolitical thinking about the control of the world. Yes, for those of you who thought that plans to control the world were conspiracy theory talk, a good part of the military manuals of world powers outlines strategies for global control.
Brazil is the new heartland, the new region that can define who will control the world. This year, we gained unprecedented geopolitical importance.
Alfred Thayer Mahan is considered the father of American foreign policy today. His crucial work was The Influence of Sea Power Upon History (“The influence of maritime power in history”), published in 1890. In the work, the author argued that the control of certain maritime regions would determine the dominion over the entire world. Influenced by Mahan, in 1904 Halford Mackinder published The Geographical Pivot of History (“History’s geographic pivot”), where he shifted geopolitical importance to the control of land, not sea, zones. In this work, Mackinder argued that controlling the “heart of the earth”heartland”, composed of Russia and Central Asia) would be the pivot to have hegemony over the “world island” (namely, all of Eurasia). It also separates the world into other regions such as the “inner Crescent” (“Internal Crescent”), made up of Europe, China, India and the Middle East, and the “outer crescent” (“external crescent”), comprising the Americas and Australia. In other words, it is an arrangement of the world map that places Russia at the center, and the Americas and Australia at the ends. However, I will propose that recent and drastic changes in the international geopolitical landscape suggest a shift in this global map layout. For this, I continue with the reflection on the theory of “heartland”.
By identifying Eastern European control as access to the heartlandin 2019 Mackinder would write the sentence that inspired the title of this article: “He who controls Eastern Europe controls the heartland; the one who controls the heartland commands the world-island; he who controls the world-island rules the world.” Then Nicholas Spykman renamed the heartlandcalling it “rimland”, adapting the previous sentence to “He who controls the rimland rules Eurasia; he who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world.” Would this idea still be valid today, or do we have a new one?heartland”?
It is worth remembering, first, that it was these concepts of Mackinder and Spykman that ended up defining Western foreign policies in relation to Russia, placing the control of this region as a priority target of their geopolitical efforts. We can even say that recent history, over the last 100 years, has been largely influenced by a struggle for control of this region, as well as later determined by a struggle between the US and Russia for control of the world. The recent crisis in Ukraine has repositioned the world in this NATO versus Russia dichotomy, creating a kind of Cold War 2.0, as I have analyzed in previous articles.
However, the reflection I would like to propose here is that Brazil is the new heartland, the new region that can define who will control the world. This year, we gained unprecedented geopolitical importance. The world has realized that without food and energy, there are no iPhones or Tesla cars, or even social stability. We know that some activities have always been crucial for the proper functioning of a society, such as those aimed at housing and food. It is for no other reason that this type of activity receives large tax incentives, such as investments in LCIs (Real Estate Letters of Credit) and LCAs (Agricultural Letters of Credit). The world has come to value food producers. And it is at this point that we gain a new approach in the global geopolitical theater.
Faced with the rapidly developing energy and food crisis in the world, Brazil is one of the few that can restore Europe’s energy security and provide the planet with food security. Not to mention that, in the extreme scenario (but each day less distant) of a nuclear conflict, Brazil places itself as a strategic zone. As a conflict of this magnitude would be concentrated in the northern hemisphere, the consequences for the global south would be smaller, being somehow protected from eventual destruction, although subject to a part of the radiation and the subsequent nuclear winter. This is all part of the theory of “Rear Zones”, so well presented by Colonel Enio Fontenele in his books and lectures.
In the end, the power that controls Brazil (albeit indirectly, through a local agent) will be able to guarantee the flow of food and essential infrastructure for a war scenario, such as energy, weapons and ammunition. Thus, the theory of “rear zones” is born. With Brazil as an ally, a global power could capitalize on our enormous territory, far from the enemies of the north, blessed with countless natural protections, an immense coastline, favorable climate and gigantic development potential. Also because the US is moving its semiconductor factories from Asia to the Americas, and the countries most likely to become the new western technological hubs are Mexico and Brazil.
For all these reasons, given what is at stake in Brazil today, I propose an adaptation of Mackinder’s phrase: “He who controls Brazil will govern the destiny of the world”. God bless us.