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IBSA, International Relations Theories, and Changes in the Global Architecture
Unformatted Document Text:  Vikrum Sequeira 18 Midwest Conference Working Paper: IBSA Parliament in March 13, 1990, stated: “We have a vision of South Africa as a united, democratic, non-sexist, and non-racial country. We see ourselves as not aligned to any military blocs.” 35 Mbeki’s initiative regarding IBSA seems congruent with New South Africa’s foreign policy and the constructivist focus on ideas. Yet a materialist, realist approach seems to work best when analyzing Brazil – both historically and in the present. Brazil has historically utilized a flexible approach that treats each foreign policy issue on its own merits. If Brazil can materially benefit, then Brazil should embrace said policy. As Selcher writes: From the first days of his government, President Geisel [President of Brazil from 1974-1979] announced a policy of “responsible pragmatism” and “no automatic alignments,” whereby each issue is to be considered separately on the basis of the national interest rather than as it affects a presupposed solidarity. Material efficiency rather than formal coherence is the standard of policy evaluation… The Brazilian view of the international system as sharply competitive, influenced by the realpolitik school, lends a strong dose of opportunism as well… It is in Brazil’s advantage in its upward mobility to maneuver among IGO groupings, to encourage multipolarity and the dissemination of power, and to engage in tactical cooperation with other states pursuing the same ends, including China, India, and Iran. 36 Thus, a material focus seems to make sense when examining Brazil, but a constructivist framework with materialism can make sense of India and South Africa’s motivations. In conclusion, many of the political science and political economy frameworks cannot make sense of IBSA. The best approach to make sense of IBSA is a combined approach. 35 Uma Shankar Kha, South Africa and the Non-Aligned Movement: Agenda for the Twenty-First Century (Delhi: Association of Indian Africanists, 2001), p. 121. 36 Selcher, Brazil’s Multilateral Relations, p. 14.

Authors: Sequeira, Vikrum.
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Vikrum Sequeira
18
Midwest Conference Working Paper: IBSA
Parliament in March 13, 1990, stated: “We have a vision of South Africa as a united,
democratic, non-sexist, and non-racial country. We see ourselves as not aligned to any
military blocs.”
35
Mbeki’s initiative regarding IBSA seems congruent with New South
Africa’s foreign policy and the constructivist focus on ideas.
Yet a materialist, realist approach seems to work best when analyzing Brazil –
both historically and in the present. Brazil has historically utilized a flexible approach
that treats each foreign policy issue on its own merits. If Brazil can materially benefit,
then Brazil should embrace said policy. As Selcher writes:

From the first days of his government, President Geisel [President of
Brazil from 1974-1979] announced a policy of “responsible pragmatism”
and “no automatic alignments,” whereby each issue is to be considered
separately on the basis of the national interest rather than as it affects a
presupposed solidarity. Material efficiency rather than formal coherence is
the standard of policy evaluation… The Brazilian view of the international
system as sharply competitive, influenced by the realpolitik school, lends a
strong dose of opportunism as well… It is in Brazil’s advantage in its
upward mobility to maneuver among IGO groupings, to encourage
multipolarity and the dissemination of power, and to engage in tactical
cooperation with other states pursuing the same ends, including China,
India, and Iran.
36
Thus, a material focus seems to make sense when examining Brazil, but a
constructivist framework with materialism can make sense of India and South Africa’s
motivations. In conclusion, many of the political science and political economy
frameworks cannot make sense of IBSA. The best approach to make sense of IBSA is a
combined approach.
35
Uma Shankar Kha, South Africa and the Non-Aligned Movement: Agenda for the Twenty-First Century
(Delhi: Association of Indian Africanists, 2001), p. 121.
36
Selcher, Brazil’s Multilateral Relations, p. 14.


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