The 4th Fleet & the Hypothesis of the Return of Supply Imperialism

07.05.2016

On July 1st of 2008, after fifty-eight years of inactivity, the 4th Fleet of the United States Navy came back to patrolling the waters of Latin America. The 4th Fleet came about in 1943 to fight against Nazi submarines and protect sailing during the Second World War. It was deactivated in 1950 for lack of need, but it is important to point out that it came back into action, de facto, during a few weeks in 1964, during the military coup d’état  against the Brazilian President João Goulart. It was then that several ships of the American War Navy placed themselves in Santos Bay (state of Sao Paulo) to act against a possible people’s resistance front upon removing President Goulart. It matters to point out that, with the reestablishment of the 4th Fleet, the Southern Command has reached the same level of importance as the Central Command that the 4th Fleet operates in the Persian Gulf.

What reasons might the United States have of sending such a powerful naval source into the region that finds itself in relative peace, without ethnic conflicts or religious explosives, without nuclear power or real military threats? What then is the objective of the 4th Fleet? Officially its main objectives are to combat terrorism and illicit activities like drug trafficking. Nevertheless, history shows that no world power makes a decision of strategic dimension if there is not a big motive behind it. A military launching of such a huge entity seems, as a minimum, to be miss-measured. The declared objective shows clear asymmetry with the entity of the launched force. Much more so if one looks over and seriously evaluates the real might of the forces that officially propose to do battle. This asymmetry allows us to reflect on the truthfulness of the declared objectives.

It turns out to be logical to deduce that the decision to reactivate the 4th Fleet is done in strategic terms in prevision of the crisis of passage. In this light, to the exultant number of basic existing supplies in the region have recently been added the enormous discoveries of petroleum in the Brazilian sea, which would difficultly be an element outside of an American decision.

In July of 2008 the Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed his doubts about the true objective of the recently reestablish 4th Fleet: “Now that we have discovered petroleum 300 kilometers off our coasts we would like the United States to please explain to us what is the logic of tat float, in a region as pacific as this one”.

Days earlier, the Brazilian President, a man little inclined to haughty sounding comments –following the tradition set by Itamaraty- had abandoned is usual manner to publically denounce that the large world powers aspired to control the Aquifer Guarani, one of the largest reserves of fresh water in the world that lies from Mato Grosso in Brazil to the Argentinian plains: “They say we need to internationalize the aquifer because we are not capable of conserving it”.

The Brazilian President had reacted before the said declarations, in Tokyo, with the British ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair in front of the parliaments of the G8 group plus the five emerging nations, amongst them Brazil. On that occasion Blair held that the Brazilian President needed “international help to contain the devastation of the Amazonas”.

The objective of the ecological campaigns started by big personalities in the world of politics, culture and entertainment find themselves aimed, many times, to creating the idea in the public opinion of the central countries that it is necessary to turn territories like the Amazon rainforests and its strategic resources into “supra-national goods” or “world heritage”, a jurisdictional category that the World Bank uses, precisely, for the Guarani Aquifer since in 2000 the interested countries gave it the charge of the study project and the protection of the aquifer.

Right at this campaign a law is proposed of “exchange of debt for nature” that, in South America, is already legal in Peru and Colombia and that constitutes the first legal step for a State to lose its sovereignty over large portions of its territory that are then managed by private institutions, like the NGOs Worldwide Fund for Nature, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, among others.