Brazil’s Position on Defense: Policy and Strategy, by Domício Proença Jr. & Marcus Augustus Lessa

The public, regular presentation of defense policies is one of the cornerstones of democratic governance. It allows the international community to better understand Brazil’s intentions and choices. Domestically, it expresses part of the system of checks and balances of civil-military relations. It also outlines how Brazil’s defense establishment and expenditure could contribute to national development.

Brazil consolidated its National Defense Policy and Strategy in 2012. This was a development that stemmed from the creation of Brazilian Ministry of Defense on the aftermath of redemocratization. In the article Brazilian national defence policy and strategy reviewed as a unity published in the special issue International Security and Defense – Taking stock of Brazil’s changes of the Revista Brasileira de Relações Internacionais (Volume 60 – N. 2), Domício Proença Jr and Marcus Augustus Lessa offer a comprehensive appreciation of their contents, taking them as a unity.

The article offers a unique review of this unit, taking Brazil’s Política Nacional de Defesa (National Defense Policy – PND) and Estratégia Nacional de Defesa (National Defense Strategy – END) as a whole – P&E for short. P&E is Brazil’s declaratory policy in matters of defense. It expresses assumptions, offers reasoning and connects considerations, ambitions and intentions. P&E presents itself with the broadest of perspectives, as the defense expression of the broader national policy of independence, while pointing out to links between national independence and national development. It outlines concerns and goals for the activities of Brazil’s Armed Forces, whose mission is thus expressed as the safeguard of independence and collaboration with development. With the benefit of this general survey, the article presents more detailed reviews: on defense proper, and on science and technology.

The first review looks at P&E from the perspective of Strategic Studies, the study of the use of force as an instrument of policy. It makes use of the literature of the field to inquire about how P&E answers the double-sided fundamental questions of strategy: which means to achieve given ends; which ends can given means achieve. Further it assesses how P&E deals with the issues of force design and governance of defense, its choices of goals, ways and means to prepare and use the Armed Forces to safeguard Brazilian independence.

The second review looks at P&E from the perspective of Public Policy, particularly in what Science, Technology and Innovation are concerned. This holds pride of place in P&E, and is the best example of how P&E addresses the issues and execution of a mandate that is concerned with development. The article makes use of the literature of the field to inquire about how P&E appreciates, informs, guides and directs the pursuit of policy goals, how it supports effective and accountable actions, how it shapes policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. Further it assesses how P&E deals with the Gordian knot of the desire for technological autonomy through indigenous innovation and the effective procurement of well-tested and proven technologies to further Brazilian national development.

The article argues that while P&E does share a variety of elements that communicate its understandings and wishes, conveying objectives as well as intents and aspirations, something is missing.

P&E does not state its preferences or priorities concerning ends and means in defense. There are lists and concerns, broad directions and differentiated concerns for many of its parts, but no clear statement of the whole. As a result, various outstanding issues remain suggested, outlined, but ultimately unaddressed. This is broadly acknowledged, and the annexes to P&E offer a schedule that promises further work and documents that would account for these issues. Until these are made known, substantive commentary from the perspective of Strategic Studies must instead emphasize and remark upon the absence of preferences and priorities.

P&E’s Science, Technology and Innovation aspirations do not distinguish between Research and Development, on the one hand, and Procurement, on the other. This bodes ill regarding the feasibility and prospect of its ambitions. R&D seeks to find solutions, and is not accountable for success, rather for report of success or failure: it is a learning process. Procurement seeks to acquire capabilities, and is accountable for the performance of what it obtains in fulfillment of defense requisites: it is a commercial contract. P&E would seem to seek autonomy in the method of technological development as much as in technology itself. This stands in stark contrast with worldwide experience. Until this novel approach is exercised and arrives at results, substantive commentary from the perspective of Public Policy must suspend judgment.

P&E’s frank expression of its ambitions, considerations, intentions may fall short. As it stands, it precludes more substantive analysis. However, it certainly offers much food for thought, and both what it says and it does not say suggest a broad agenda for public discussion, political debate and scholarly contribution.

About the authors

Domício Proença Jr. – Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Programa de Engenharia de Produção Rio de Janeiro – RJ, Brazil (domicio.proenca.jr@gmail.com).

Marcus Augustus Lessa – Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Programa de Engenharia de Produção Rio de Janeiro – RJ, Brazil (marcus.lessa@gmail.com).

Read the article

Proença Jr., Domício, & Lessa, Marcus Augustus. (2017). Brazilian national defence policy and strategy reviewed as a unity. Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional, 60(2), e010. Epub January 18, 2018.https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0034-7329201700210

How to cite this note

aclessa, "Brazil’s Position on Defense: Policy and Strategy, by Domício Proença Jr. & Marcus Augustus Lessa," in Instituto Brasileiro de Relações Internacionais, 25/01/2018, http://www.ibri-rbpi.org/?p=16268.

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