In November 2018, Jair Bolsonaro, then Brazil’s president-elect, made an explosive announcement: he would be appointing Ernesto Araujo to the position of foreign minister. This would have been a controversial appointment under any circumstances: Araujo, 51, had for most of his career been an undistinguished career diplomat within Brazil’s foreign service, the Itamaraty, and he had only recently achieved ambassadorial status, a middling rank in the corps. His colleagues described him as competent and bookish, but he was the most junior candidate for the top job in a country with an especially hierarchical diplomatic corps.
These were not normal circumstances. After spending years in Washington diligently promoting the policies of successive presidents from Brazil’s left-leaning Workers’ Party, in 2017 Araujo had shocked his colleagues by publishing a deeply conservative essay titled “Trump and the West” for the Itamaraty’s official journal. In the essay, Araujo denounced the United Nations and other so-called globalist forces for attempting to supplant true nationalism, which in his view arises from “gods and ancestors” rather than appeals to chimerical “values.” The West, Araujo wrote, was united neither by alliances nor by commitments such as human rights; it was a “community of nations” bound by “the scars of the past,” from the Greeks’ victory over the Persians at Salamis to the Allied landing at Omaha Beach.
Araujo did not stop there. Citing reactionary intellectuals, including Oswald Spengler and Julius Evola, he claimed that the “whole liberal and revolutionary tradition” since the Enlightenment had been based on a “rejection of the past”—a “rejection of heroes, rejection of religious worship, and rejection of the family”—culminating in the contemporary “postmodern man, who has no soul.” These philosophical errors, Araujo argued, had led to a crippling lack of self-confidence on the part of Western civilization. The West was now unwilling to defend itself against the internal threat of “postmodern ‘liberal’ ideology” and the external threat of rival civilizations in Asia and the Muslim world. Yet U.S. President Donald
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