- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Today President George W. Bush is to meet with President-elect Luis Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, who will take office on Jan. 1, 2003. There will be cordial statements on both sides, photographs of friendly handshakes, and most observers will continue to believe Mr. Lula da Silva despite his more than 20 years of self professed admiration for Fidel Castro will govern as he posed during the election campaign, when he left behind his radicalism and projected the image of a pragmatic reformist.
That could happen, and many in the U.S. State Department seem to be making this hopeful assumption. But the more likely future is one in which the Lula da Silva government combines a strong interest in promoting Brazilian exports and maintaining good relations with U.S. business, foreign investors and international financial organizations with a parallel series of actions, both visible and hidden, that are intended to help pro-Castro anti-U.S. radicals take power in other neighboring countries such as Colombia racked for decades by communist guerilla attacks.
A new pro-Castro coalition in the Western Hemisphere has been established including Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and Presidents-elects Lula da Silva in Brazil and Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador. As Mr. Chavez has done since 1999, these would pursue a parallel strategy of normal business and financial relations with the U.S. while they would also help other pro-Castro radicals take power and be allied with hostile state sponsors of terror such as Cuba, Iran, Iraq and Libya on many issues. They are also likely to establish close political-strategic, economic and perhaps military relations with Communist China, as Cuba and Mr. Chavez have done.
The pragmatic aspect of Mr. Lula da Silva's policy is evident in a statement by two of his associates after the election that his government wants to "double exports to the United States within four years and triple them within eight," while at the same time strengthening MERCOSUR, the trade agreement among Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. In an interview with Lally Weymouth, Mr. Lula da Silva said his policy will be to "reach out to the poorest sectors of our population," while at the same time being "aware of our dependence on foreign capital." He also said, "We will fulfill all the contracts that the Brazilian government has signed" meaning his administration does not intend to default on Brazil's very large $260 billion public debt.
But an important indicator of the radical dimensions of the future plans of "Lula" is that since 1990, he has convened an annual meeting called the "Forum of Sao Paulo" that has included all the communist and radical political parties and armed communist terrorist organizations of Latin America together with terrorist groups from Europe (IRA, ETA) and the Middle East (PFLP GC), as well as participants from Iraq, Libya, Cuba and other state sponsors of terrorism. These meetings are direct successors to the "Tricontinental Congress" established by Mr. Castro in 1966 to help terrorist organizations from Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East better coordinate their attacks on the U.S. and its allies.
In December 2001, Lula da Silva's group met in Havana, Cuba, and this December it met in Guatemala, again joined by delegates from Cuba, Iraq, Libya and North Korea. As an indicator of its political views, this year's working paper for the Dec. 2-4, 2002, meeting included the following statements: "NATO troops perpetrated genocide in Kosovo, U.S. and British forces massacred the population of Afghanistan [prisoners held by the U.S. in Guantanamo, Cuba] are submitted to punishment and tortures with full U.S. support, the government of Israel continues to carry out a systematic policy of murdering Palestinians."
This year's concluding statement committed the participants to oppose the U.S.-supported Plan Colombia, to oppose the U.S.-supported Free Trade Area of the Americas, to oppose privatization, and said President George Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel are an "axis of evil." Similar views have been expressed by Lula's international group since 1990 and we can expect the Lula government to adopt many of these positions as it consolidates power.
Further negative indicators about Lula's future foreign policy include the fact that in March 2002, his political party formally established a committee in solidarity with the communist guerillas of Colombia, that in 2001 the radical wing of Lula's movement expressed its full solidarity with Yasser Arafat and the PLO, and that in 1999 his Workers' Party established a party-to-party "strategic partnership" with the Communist Party of China.
When harassment by Chinese aircraft caused a U.S. surveillance plane to make an emergency landing in April, 2001, Mr. Lula da Silva said his party "supports the just position of the Chinese government" against the U.S. When in 2001, U.S. and British aircraft used force against Iraq in support of U.N. Security council resolutions, Lula's Worker's Party reacted by stating it was opposed "to the armed aggression and military action violating all international norms." It went on to condemn the Bush administration for "its unilateral and hegemonic vocation, placing at risk worldwide security."
Also of concern is the fact that in the past, Mr. Lula da Silva had said Brazil should resume developing nuclear weapons a program that existed from 1965-1994 and successfully designed a 30-kiloton atomic bomb and should have nuclear weapons because it is a great power.
During the presidential campaign, Lula said his foreign policy would be one of "love and peace." His first recent hint that he still wanted Brazil to have nuclear weapons was given in a Sept. 13, 2002, speech to a group of military officers. Lula questioned whether Brazil should continue to abide by the treaty limiting its right to have nuclear weapons because "if someone asks me to disarm and keep a slingshot while he comes at me with a cannon, what good does that do?" Reportedly, the speech received "rapturous applause" from the Brazilian officers. This speech followed by weeks the decision of the International Monetary Fund to grant Brazil $30 billion to help meet its financial needs.
China has for some years been seeking to cultivate political and military leaders in Latin America and currently has two joint reconnaissance satellites with Brazil while the Brazilian aerospace company, Embraer, the world's fourth-largest, has signed a contract to build hundreds of commercial aircraft in China. Before the presidential election campaign, Lula had often called for closer relations with China. In June 2002, Aloizio Merchant, a leading member of the Worker's Party who may become Brazil's foreign minister said publicly that "alliances with China, Russia are important to give force to a possible anti-American coalition."
It is quite probable that China will expand its economic ties with Brazil and welcome Mr. Lula da Silva's intention to have Brazil reduce the influence of the United States in Latin America by having broader and more extensive relations with China. To counterbalance the United States, China might at some point help the Lula government with its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile ambitions, just as China secretly gave such help to Pakistan in order to counterbalance India.
These negative developments are possible, but not inevitable. At present, all the democratic groups in Venezuela are courageously seeking the removal of the pro-Castro Mr. Chavez because of his unconstitutional actions in 1999 and since. If the democratic governments and citizens of the Western Hemisphere, including the Bush administration, act with realism and skill, it may be possible to reduce the harmful consequences of Mr. Lula da Silva's past decades of left-radicalism and work with Brazil to help all its citizens, including the poor, have a brighter future.

Constantine C. Menges, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, formerly served as a presidential special assistant for national security affairs. His latest book is "2007: The Preventable War The Strategic Challenge of China and Russia." (forthcoming).

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