Since the end of the Cold War, presidents have no longer been defenders of ideas and strategic positions in international geopolitics. Globalization has reduced the national leaders to local agendas, above all to commercial agendas.
Globalization has still not produced the global statespeople that the world needs. World leaders must perceive the need to go beyond commerce, stop seeing the borders of their countries as a customs and immigration problem and understand their role in the architecture of the future world.
President Barack Obama and President Dilma Rousseff are among the few leaders in the position to see the world as global statespeople, and not merely as leaders of their countries. Both have a biography committed to values and principles, with banners of struggle.
They have ideas about and sensitivity to worldwide problems. In addition, as a black man and as a woman, they share a biopolitical genesis different from their predecessors. This gives them new sensibilities and positions in relation to the future.
President Obama’s visit to Brazil and his dialogue with President Dilma, therefore, give us the hope that the meeting will produce something historical and will not merely be another friendly diplomatic gesture.
In the first place, we should perceive their mutual greatness if we remember that it is the first time that a U.S. president has come to Brazil before his Brazilian colleague visited the United States.
But to leave their mark on history the two presidents must transform the Encounter into a Summit Meeting of two global statespeople, defining a common agenda for world problems.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism should be among the principal concerns of this agenda, and commercial matters cannot be forgotten, but international problems should come first.
The two presidents need to place at least three other topics on the agenda: the struggle against poverty, recalling President Dilma’s statement that “a rich world is a world without poverty”; the subordination of the economy to ecological equilibrium; and the defense of human rights.
Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, already in the spirit of Cold War statesmanship, launched the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe.
President John F. Kennedy, still in the spirit of the Cold War, launched the Food for Peace program and several support programs for the economic development of each underdeveloped country.
Presidents Obama and Dilma must go much further than this, adapting to the demands of the 21st-century globalized world, a world demanding policies that no longer come unilaterally from the USA and are no longer merely concerned with each country’s economic development.
Together they must launch the ideas for an anti-poverty Global Social Plan, above all for overcoming poverty through education, with the worldwide adoption of programs like the Bolsa Escola and the support of quality schooling for all the world’s children. And they should present a Letter to be submitted to the Chiefs of State at the “Rio + 20” Meeting in 2012.
Dilma and Obama have shown their concerns for the environment, especially for the search for alternative energy sources, and together they could carry this discussion to the world. They should sign an alliance updating the concept of the auto-determination of the world’s peoples to recognize the world as a condominium of countries with mutual responsibilities: to human rights; against terrorism; to impeding the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and to permitting the use of the technical advance for the service of all humanity.
Dilma and Obama represent strong countries and share the personal qualities needed to transform a meeting of two presidents into a summit meeting of two global statespersons. Brazil, the United States and the world, we today and the future generations – all of us hope that they will take advantage of the opportunity that history, their personal biographies and the merit of each of them will offer us.
Cristovam Buarque is a professor at the University of Brasília and a PDT senator for the Federal District. He is the vice president of the Brazilian Senate Foreign Relations Commission. You can visit his website at www.cristovam.org.br/portal2/, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SEN_CRISTOVAM in Portuguese and http://twitter.com/cbbrazilianview in English and write to him at email@example.com.
New translations of his works of fiction The Subterranean Gods and Astricia are now available on Amazon.com.
Translated from the Portuguese by Linda Jerome (LinJerome@cs.com).