• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, bloggingsbyboz.com. The views expressed are the author's own.
Dear Presidents Obama and Rousseff,
The pundits are disappointed and angry about US-Brazil relations. They want more. They wrote countless op-eds prior to President Rousseff's visit demanding more, and yet you gave them nothing. They want big new announcements about free trade deals, UN Security Council seats, visa waivers, and nuclear issues followed by a fancy state dinner in their tuxedos. You didn't do any of that.
Oh, sure. Your governments would say it's not nothing. You would point to a 3,000 word joint statement and a dozen fact sheets about all the programs and cooperation going on between the US and Brazil. But you can't expect the pundits to actually read those or care about the issues within.
You can't expect the pundits to feel happy about the fact the US and Brazil are cooperating on the largest effort for student educational exchanges in decades.
You can't expect them to waste their time reporting on
- knowledge exchanges about nanotechnology,
- coordination of data on global earth monitoring satellites,
- the scientific modeling of natural disasters,
- a joint program for the eradication of polio in Africa,
- cooperation on oceanic observation,
- discussion of biofuel standards,
- public-private partnerships in Haiti's energy sector,
- information sharing about energy efficiency,
- a new Defense Cooperation Dialogue,
- an agreement to share some classified military information
- joint military exercises to counter piracy off the coast of Africa,
- a new memorandum of understanding on aviation issues,
- two new US consulates opened up in Brazil,
- information sharing about sustainable housing in urban areas,
- an action plan to fight racial and ethnic discrimination,
- coordination of methodology on monitoring environmental issues,
- or working groups on promoting food security.
You don't seem to understand that the pundits don't care about your detailed cooperation agreements and the hundreds of hours spent by government officials working on various 21st century issues. They want you to take them back to 1994 and have the presidents whisper the words "free trade" into their ears. Until you do that, the pundits declare that Rousseff's visit was worthless and US-Brazil relations have failed. Feed the pundits (preferably at a state dinner) or face their wrath.