Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra

As the administration focuses on Iran, we take a look today at the fallout – a disturbing deterioration in relations between the United States and Brazil.lula_brazil

Our exclusive report from Washington and Brasilia describes how a row over Iran has pushed relations between the two Western hemisphere economic giants to “rock bottom.” The fallout from Iran remains worse than either side will acknowledge publicly, and there is a real risk of a longer-term drift that could threaten trade and business ties. “They’re in the freezer,” was how an upper-level source in Brasilia characterized relations.

It is especially disappointing, of course, since both sides had anticipated improved ties under President Barack Obama, who made a point of fawning over his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva last year, calling him “my man” and “the most popular politician on Earth.”

For the full story by Brian Winter and Natuza Nery, read here.

For a graphic on how the United States is losing ground to China on trade with Brazil, click here.

On Iran, Obama was at pains on Wednesday to leave open a “pathway” for a peaceful settlement with Tehran over the nuclear issue, even as U.N. sanctions start to bite.  On Thursday, the State Department declared Iran the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, and said its backing for extremists “threatened economic stability in the Gulf, jeopardized the tenuous peace in southern Lebanon, and undermined the growth of democracy.”

Hotter ties with Brazil? Tap Obamamania, says expert

BRAZIL-CARNIVAL/The United States’ influence in its traditional “backyard” is waning and needs a boost. Washington should be forging closer ties with Latin America’s emerging powerhouse Brazil, says Johns Hopkins political scientist Riordan Roett.

Best way to do that? Send the Obamas to Brazil because Brazilians will go nuts about the U.S. First Family.

“The White House should send the Obamas to Brazil. Can you imagine the Obamas getting off the plane in Rio de Janeiro? It would be extraordinary, a carnival, absolute madness,” Roett told the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit.

Brzezinski sees encouraging signs emerging from Haitian catastrophe


It might sound Pollyannaish coming from anybody other than Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hard-nosed intellectual who was Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser. But he says the gigantic catastrophe in Haiti may suggest some good things about the state of the modern world.

“As I look at this tragedy and as I look at this enormous human suffering, I’m also a little bit encouraged by the symbolism of the collective global response,” Brzezinski said in an interview with MSNBC.

Help has arrived quickly not only from the United States, the country’s biggest and richest neighbor, but also from other countries including Brazil and China. That could be a hopeful sign of an emerging international template for responding to turmoil around the world, including in hot spots like Afghanistan.