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Since last Saturday, the American press has rejoiced over the entry of Brazil into the war. Nearly every newspaper in the nation has pointed out the importance of such a declaration by a South American country, and the Sunday supplements have been crammed with statistics on the Brazilian Army and Navy. Actually it would appear that the immediate military effects of Brazilian belligerency are negligible compared with the long run effects of Pan-American unity.
Brazil's army of a maximum of 285,000 men is ill-equipped and, by European standards, poorly trained. Its wartime task is well-nigh insuperable, for it has the responsibility of guarding the longest Atlantic coastline of any Pan-American nation. For 2,000 miles, from Belem to Rio de Janeiro, there is not a single inch of railroad track, and highway facilities are very poorly developed. All traffic of any large dimensions must move either by coast-wise steamer or by slow portage over inland rivers.
The Brazilian navy is both small and antiquated, although an expansion program is now under way. In the naval sphere Brazil's most important immediate contribution will be bases from which aircraft and ships of the United Nations can operate without going through the delay of Lease-Lend formalities. Seaplane bases can be established all along the coastline, and small naval patrol craft may be stationed at many points.
In the long run Brazil can be of greatest importance as a leader among South American nations. Already Uruguay has expressed her sympathy by granting Brazil non-belligerent status. Paraguay and Bolivia, two of Brazil's most important neighbors, and sources of vitally needed minerals, may soon follow suit. As the South American pro-United Nations bloc draws closer together, the opportunities of enlisting their aid are widened. The results of a cohesive and economic bloc throughout the Western Hemisphere may well be of decisive importance in the strategy of war and reconstruction.
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