The title refers to a recurring thought I've been having since Brazil announced it was unilaterally extending its offshore sovereignty to cover the sea-bed oil reserves it recently discovered, despite the fact that its previous proposal to that effect had been rejected by the U.N., and its re-application has not yet been decided upon. That was soon followed by the news that Brasilia would further expand its naval capabilities -- beyond the four Scorpene-class subs as well as a nuclear-powered one it has already contracted with France -- to back up its claim.
Everyone loves a soft, cuddly Middle Power with a domestic track record of poverty reduction and a global image of multilateral, if not servile, diplomacy. But things tend to change when hard power gets deployed in defense of national interests. In mathematical terms, the question facing Brazil and the world is, Brazil:South Atlantic = China:South China Sea?
Meanwhile, for an in-depth examination of the successes of Brazilian grand strategy under President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and the challenges and obstacles it faces moving forward, try this SSI monograph by Hal Brands. Great stuff.