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James Stavridis

Brazil Isn’t Ready for Trump’s Invitation to NATO

Latin America’s biggest nation would be a vital major ally. But membership is out of the question.

New pals.

New pals.

Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Getty Images

At a predictably strange press conference with the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, President Trump threw out the idea of making the huge South American nation a member of NATO. Or did he? “I also intend to designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally or even possibly, if you start thinking about it, maybe a NATO ally,” he said.

First, let’s get the terminology right. (Reuters had a little trouble with it.) The NATO Treaty is quite specific that actual membership is limited to nations of the North Atlantic community - and a glance at any globe therefore disqualifies Brazil. A Major Non-NATO Ally is a category of defense and security partner with some benefits in terms of sharing military intelligence, increased coordination, and enhanced planning and privileged acquisition of military hardware. More than 15 nations are already in that category, including Israel, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.