News | Jan. 1, 2014

The Defense Acquisition Trilemma: The Case of Brazil

By Patrice Franko Strategic Forum 284


Key Points

  • Brazil is a puzzling new strategic player. Currently, its economic clout is not supported by strong operational military capabilities. 
  • To make its military instrument commensurate with its new geopolitical weight, Brazil is undergoing military modernization. But it faces a security trilemma: it must choose among long-held aspirations of sovereignty, integration into the global value chain, and economic sustainability. 
  • Acute tradeoffs are being avoided by leveraging diversification of global partnerships into a wide but shallow defense supply chain integration. 
  • With its new global reach, the Brazilian defense industrial base is not a continuation of the defense industry of the 1980s. Instead, complex industrial relationships and civil society engagement create a critical disjuncture from the inward looking pattern of the earlier phase. 
  • Strengthening legal frameworks between the United States and Brazil to support defense cooperation would allow private-sector initiatives to deepen bilateral ties.