A Relationship of Unbalanced Giants
This chapter sets the stage by comparing the histories and national psychologies of the two countries and emphasizing their interactions. They were intimately linked by the African slave trade. The United States rebuffed early Brazilian attempts to form an alliance, yet it intervened to defend the new republic. Comparing population distribution and transportation provides insight into control of territory. Brazil of Vargas was a dictatorship, while Roosevelt’s United States was an elected representative democracy. Although friendly there is a current of tension in their relations. During the war the American air and naval bases in the Northeast of Brazil played major roles in destroying Axis submarines in the South Atlantic and in the Allied victories in Egypt and North Africa. The Brazilian expeditionary force in the Italian campaign was a major feature of their joint war experience. Problems arose from the differing expectations of the two sides. The alliance was an important element in Brazil’s modernization and the development of its armed forces. The popular perception of World War II in Brazil has a curious poisonous undercurrent suggesting that the United States had somehow drawn Brazil into the conflict against the better judgment of Brazilian leaders. At its extreme this undercurrent alleges unbelievably that US Navy submarines sank Brazilian ships to provoke the country to enter the war.