Institutions and Competition

Can international cooperation mediate extremism?

May 16, 2016

International coordination, for example, played a useful role enhancing intelligence and security at the olympics in Sochi and London.


In Russia and Great Britain, awareness of extremist threats is embedded among the society because people in both nations know what it feels like to have their homeland attacked by terrorists.


Brazil, which hosts the Rio Olympics in July, has never experienced a terrorist attack.


 Now, amidtst the worst political and economic crisis in its history Brazil has become the proving ground for international intelligence, security and counerterrorism cooperation that will be watched with keen interest by intelligence gurus like Russia’s Alexander Bortnikov, James Clapper of the United States and by extremists themselves.


Brazil has been conducting a series of counterterrorism simulations and strategy sessions that have been attended by attachés, civilian specialists and members of the media (this bloger was credentialed to attend).  While the simulations showcased the readiness of the military special operations brigade and its counterterrorism units, and elements of state and local police, it also highlighted Brazil’s emphasis on “proactive counterterrorism” which seeks to deter threats through the use of actionable intelligence information, gathered locally, and through international cooperation. When it's all over metrics and networks can evolve and be helpful to other nations hosting mega-events.


The Brazil simulations were not unlike what took place recently on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival in the South of France, which is being attended by 250,000 (many of them highly insured) celebrities and conducted under the ágeis of a consulting firm whose key personality has close ties to the service that provides security for the president of Israel.


Brazil developed its “proactive” strategy inspired in part by professor Peter Tarlow of Texas A&M University in the United States.  Tarlow has worked as a security consultant for the Super Bowl of American football, and continues to educate and certify police forces and tourism professionals worldwide in security procedures. With Brazil’s history of hosting megaevents like Carnival and its annual New Year’s Eve celebration on Copacabana beach, both of which attract one million people, the security infrastructure views the olympics as a tourist event and Tarlow’s philosophy of maintaining the economic viability of tourism in an age of terrorism complements the traditional “reactive” approach to counterterrorism and the public relations challenges it can present.


With an estimated 85,000 people involved in the overall security infrastructure supporting the Rio Olympics it is a major challenge for senior experts to get each individual focused on being "proactive."  


Those civilians and military involved in senior mega-event security infrastructre, meanwhile, are working hard to stay mission focused,  having dealt with four different defense ministers and three different sports ministers since the 2014 FIFA Brazil World Cup.


The musical chairs government of the former Dilma regime didn't help much either. According to a study by the BBC, during the five and one half years that president Dilma Rousseff led Brazil before stepping aside to go on trial as part of the impeachment process, a total of 86 ministers in her Workers’ Party government have either resigned, been forced to resign, or were fired. That total averages out to replacing one minister every 22 days.  


Security and counterterrorism for the Rio Olympics are not a tier 1 priority for Brazil's temporary president, vice president Michel Temer of the Brazilian Popular Democratic Movement party (PMDB), whose visits to Russia make him well known among Kremlin leadership.  Temer faces a steep learning curve.  His first choice for minister of defense, a 36 year old PMDB politician with no defense experience was somehow leaked to the media, and it was quietly rejected by the armed forces.  The official choice, now defense minister, is another career politician, 64 year old Raul Jungmann, who is an expert on gun control and its impact on street violence in Brazilian society.


To stay mission focused amidst the chatter and political turmoil, as the  Rio Olympics approach, Brazil needs all the international cooperation it can get.

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