According to documents leaked to the Brazilian daily newspaper Folha de São Paulo, top military officials in the country believe that France poses the greatest external threat to the Latin American country and that it could invade the country by the year 2035.
The secret report, titled “Defense scenarios 2040,” is the product of roughly five hundred individual interviews with high ranking army officials in which they discussed what they believed were the biggest issues facing Brazil’s military security.
While it was quickly dismissed by the French Embassy in Brazil, which even saluted the “limitless imagination of [the report’s] authors,” it does reflect growing tensions between Paris and Brasilia. Following last year’s massive wildfires in Amazon, which were partially caused by policies of the current Brazilian government, France’s President Emmanuel Macron came out publicly and criticized Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro.
As a result of 2019’s diplomatic spat, it seems as if some in the Brazilian military believe that France could push for a United Nations’ sponsored intervention in the Amazon. Brazil has a 730-kilometer border with French Guiana, an overseas department and region of the French Republic.
This is all despite the fact that the countries have significant military cooperation and relations. France has been instrumental in building up Brazil’s submarine fleet, with several more nuclear-powered submarines set to be built in Brazil with French technology.
The leaked document has not formally been integrated into Brazil’s defense doctrine, though it is currently set to be debated and likely partially incorporated later this year. Brasilia was quick to downplay the significance of the document, stating that the report was merely “the first draft of a primary study” and not representative of the government’s policy. The document is expected to be discussed in parliament as early as June before any element is officially made a part of the country’s national defense strategy.
Other hypothetical situations outlined in the report include the possibility of a Chinese military base in neighboring Argentina as well as a war with Venezuela. Other scenarios that were discussed included the possibility of an attack on the Rock in Rio 2039 music festival using a weaponized form of the coronavirus by “Southeast Asian ultranationalists.”
More realistically, it also highlighted the possibility of a NATO military base in West Africa as a counterweight to growing Chinese presence on the African continent.
While the document might seem outlandish, it likely reflects some, if not many, of the views held by Bolsonaro. His rejection of man-made climate change alongside increasing alignment with the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government in Israel puts him ever more at odds with Macron. Bolsonaro has previously voiced his public approval of the Brazilian military junta that governed the country for over 20 years; he has also openly disparaged Macron’s wife on social media.