Historically, Brazil's legislature has displayed outright disdain in addressing issues relating to national defense. The prerogatives that the new (1988) Constitution confers upon this important segment of the political system have not been fully utilized. The purpose of the present work is to establish how the Brazilian legislative process functions in the post-authoritarianism period within the broad field of security and defense. It compares the impacts of the recent establishment of the Ministry of Defense in Brazil (1999) and of the events of September 11, 2001, in order to analyze issues related to security and defense in our nation. It especially considers Parliament because, as a pluralist and representative entity, we believe that it functions as a synthesis of the nation with respect to society's attention to the topics of security and defense and to its armed forces. In the early 21st century, as we will stress throughout the article, there appear to exist new elements aimed at the social and institutional appreciation of this important field in Brazil, which could result in the maturation and intensification of our young democracy.
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The purpose of this paper is to assess the extent to which the Ministry of Defense, an institution of critical importance for today's societies, is impacting civil-military relations in Brazil. Ultimately, this translates into a strengthening of civil controls geared toward achieving civil supremacy over the Armed Forces, which are a fundamental tool that the government has at its disposal. The process of establishing and implementing a Ministry of Defense is not linear, but winding. It depends both on the policies adopted by the Ministry of Defense itself and on the relationships established among the military personnel, the Government and the rest of society. After a brief analysis of the problem and of the Brazilian situation, we tried to examine the "hits and misses" of the Ministry of Defense in connection with civil-military relations in Brazil. We also looked at the organization of the defense system in our country. Indeed, Brazil is still far from a situation where civil supremacy is a reality, notwithstanding the fact that major gaps in the "echelons" of civil supremacy are being bridged. Since the creation and implementation of a Ministry of Defense is a process, the decisive involvement of the country?s politicians and of large segments of the civil society become necessary in order to do away with much of the apathy that Brazil is currently experiencing.
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