The Biden administration seems to have learned a lesson in Ukraine on how to support liberty and freedom movements. As a Libertarian-ish Republican, I share the concerns of many on the right that the United States needs to be careful not to be drawn into a war with Russia, yet I do agree that supporting the natural right of people exercising their rights to protect themselves is fundamental to the idea of freedom as recognized by the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
I am a conservative who is happy that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made a trip to Ukraine to show support for the people of that nation under fire. Another nation that is under a different kind of assault is Brazil where an election is about to happen that may point the largest nation in South America left towards Russia and China. The Biden Administration needs to apply the lessons learned about the conflict in Ukraine on our relationships with other nations under attack from the left.
Former imprisoned corrupt President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, better known as ‘Lula,’ is running to reclaim the presidency of Brazil against a pro-American sitting President Jair Bolsonaro. The Biden Administration should resist a reactionary foreign policy that opposes the current government in Brazil because President Donald J. Trump was closely associated with the ‘Trump of the Tropics’ Bolsonaro. The early signs are not good with reports that President Joe Biden and Bolsonaro have not spoken.
The battle in Brazil is not between a right versus left style American election in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil. The October 2, 2022, presidential election is between a pro-West conservative and an anti-West socialist who will pull Brazil away from existing relationships with the United States. Some in the Biden Administration will want to oppose Bolsonaro merely because he is center-right, yet the race in Brazil is not a Republican v. Democratic style fight; it is more a fight between pro-capitalist ideology and Marxism that has infected Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. When Russia invaded Ukraine, it received the strong support of Venezuela’s leader Nicolas Maduro who condemned the Biden Administration’s “destabilizing actions” and spoke out against a Western campaign of "lies and disinformation.” Similar noises are coming from Lula.
Do we really want another Maduro in South America?
The early campaign of Lula shows that his is staunchly pro-Russia in the Ukraine conflict. Lula was quoted in Time Magazine on May 4, 2022, arguing, that Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelenskiy “is as responsible as Putin for the war” and argued “the president of Ukraine could have said: ‘Come on, let’s stop talking about this NATO business, about joining the EU for a while. Let’s discuss a bit more first.” Lula also hammered President Biden who he says, “could have taken a plane to Moscow to talk” to Putin. This is not a talking point of liberal Democrats in the United States – these are talking points directly supporting and excusing the actions of Russia.
The Time piece, much like many other liberal publications, was heavily biased towards Lula. Time argued the former president imprisoned for corruption was “riding out of his political exile like a white knight.” The fact is that a massive corruption scheme to steal money from the state oil company Petrobras was uncovered in the ‘Car Wash’ scandal that resulted in Lula going to jail and his hand-picked replacement President Dilma Rousseff getting in impeached.
Brazil is a success story under President Bolsonaro. Much like other leaders throughout the globe, Bolsonaro has had his popularity hammered by the outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic and a worldwide inflation crisis. Recent polling indicates that the more Brazilians focus on the upcoming elections they are recalling the stagnation, corruption and criminality that characterized the Lula presidency and Lula’s current lead in the polls is narrowing.
According to Latin America Reports, during the first year of President Bolsonaro’s presidency he turned the economy around to an increase in GDP and “managed to pass a groundbreaking and long-awaited reform of the pension system through Congress” that was causing massive budget deficits. He worked to simplify taxation and pushed to privatize many state-owned companies inching the nations closer to a free market economy.
In short, the Biden Administration should do everything they can to support the efforts of Bolsonaro to retain the presidency at a time when Russia and China will be doing everything, they can get Lula back in office. The United States needs a consistent foreign policy that supports nations respecting individual and economic freedom.
Brian Darling is former Sr. Communications Director and Counsel for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).