November 29, 2021

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In France, Kamala Harris Asserts Herself as a Diplomatic Asset

In France, Kamala Harris Asserts Herself as a Diplomatic Asset

PARIS — Vice President Kamala Harris spent hours talking with Emmanuel Macron, the French president, managing to skirt a latest diplomatic rift between the 2 allies over an Australian submarine deal. She attended a convention on selling democratic elections in Libya. And she or he secured a dedication for the USA to affix a nonbinding international declaration to guard civilians in opposition to cyberattacks.

Throughout a tightly-choreographed journey to France this week, Ms. Harris appeared decided to claim herself as a diplomatic asset for a president who believes he knows more about the process — and the vice presidency — than most.

The journey, coming amid declining approval rankings for President Biden and Ms. Harris inside the USA, additionally supplied an opportunity to cement the worldwide profile of the vice chairman, who has demonstrated aspirations for greater workplace.

“I feel there isn’t a query that I’m right here as a consultant for my nation,” Ms. Harris stated. “And my presence right here is reflective of the priorities that the USA has because it pertains to France.”

However 10 months into her vice presidency, Ms. Harris’s monitor file on delivering on the administration’s world priorities has been blended.

Earlier journeys, to Southeast Asia and Central America, served as essential assessments on collaborating with allies and confronting adversaries on the worldwide stage. Consultants stated they have been nonetheless making an attempt to course of whether or not Ms. Harris’s five-day journey to France, which ends Saturday, had helped her set up American priorities abroad.

“I feel she’s been actually hidden this entire time and out of the sight of most Europeans,” stated Célia Belin, a visiting fellow within the Heart on the USA and Europe on the Brookings Establishment. “I feel she’s been fairly below the radar.”

The principle diplomatic achievement Ms. Harris brings dwelling from the journey was the announcement on Wednesday that the USA had joined a French-led world initiative to guard civilians in opposition to cyberattacks and shield elections from digital threats. Which will have helped soothe France’s anger over a profitable submarine deal it had with Australia that Canberra abruptly canceled in favor of a brand new one with the USA and Britain.

Ms. Harris’s assembly with Mr. Macron got here at a very difficult time, Ms. Belin stated, as France — like the USA — confronts an increase in far-right and nationalist rhetoric.

Mr. Macron faces a tricky re-election marketing campaign subsequent yr and a likely challenge from a far-right firebrand, and in response has moved to the proper on points like immigration and crime.

“The irony of this journey and this assembly,” Ms. Belin stated, was that France was “present process a very nonprogressive second that extends out as very a lot an opposition to what she represents.”

However Ms. Harris — who usually has lunch with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to debate overseas coverage points — got here with not one of the blunt messaging she has delivered on different journeys overseas. Throughout her first overseas journey as vice chairman, to Guatemala, she got here with powerful messages on two difficult points at the same time as she met the nation’s leaders: surging migration and the corruption that plagues the Latin American nation.

In public feedback, Ms. Harris stated the USA wouldn’t welcome asylum-seeking migrants from Guatemala who entered the nation illegally. She additionally voiced help for an anti-corruption unit whose integrity had been criticized by Guatemala’s president, Alejandro Giammattei. “We’ll look to root out corruption wherever it exists,” she stated.

“She struck the proper stability between making an attempt to ascertain productive relationships and being terribly frank,” stated Stephen McFarland, a former ambassador to Guatemala in the course of the Obama administration. Nonetheless, he added, that message had carried out little to sway the Guatemalan authorities.

Only a month after Ms. Harris’s go to, an anti-corruption prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, who had been investigating Mr. Giammattei, was abruptly fired and fled the nation.

Ms. Harris’s subsequent journey, to Singapore and Vietnam, was touted as an effort to bolster financial and public well being partnerships.

But it surely got here in the course of the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, forcing her senior aides to face questions concerning the historic parallel between that exodus and the U.S. evacuation of Americans in 1975 from Saigon in the course of the Vietnam Conflict.

William Choong, a senior fellow on the Yusof Ishak Institute, a analysis group in Singapore, stated Ms. Harris was a “good trooper” for the Biden administration, “delivering a really commendable efficiency and delivering an emphatic word about American dedication to the southeast area in addition to the broader Indo-Pacific.”

Throughout her journey, Ms. Harris additionally took a tricky line with China, accusing Beijing of intimidation within the South China Sea and pledging to problem its “bullying and extreme maritime claims.” China condemned Ms. Harris’s feedback, and stepped up its criticism of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Whereas Ms. Harris’s time in France saved her largely freed from controversy and allowed her to ascertain a better presence, nevertheless managed, on the world stage than on previous journeys, she is going through vital headwinds at dwelling.

The Biden administration is going through rising inflation, a home agenda whose success continues to be in query, a world pandemic that has not receded, and a dangerous Democratic loss within the Virginia governor’s race that has some within the celebration questioning whether the White House is taking the right cues from American voters.

There may be additionally the difficulty of lagging approval rankings for each President Biden and Ms. Harris: a latest USA Today-Suffolk University poll discovered that 28 p.c of voters authorised of the job the vice chairman is doing.

Symone Sanders, Ms. Harris’s press secretary and senior adviser, instructed reporters en path to Paris that dismal new polling mirrored “a snapshot in time,” and that Ms. Harris was targeted on different issues, together with a social spending deal.

Allies of the administration treaded gingerly when requested how Ms. Harris’s efficiency overseas may change her personal political fortunes.

Former Senator Chris J. Dodd of Connecticut, a member of the Biden marketing campaign’s vice-presidential search committee and a confidant of the president, praised the job she had carried out in Paris, and stated the vice chairman’s political future may embrace being part of an extended record of Democratic candidates ought to the Biden presidency be restricted to 1 time period.

“I’m hoping the president runs for re-election,” Mr. Dodd stated, “however for no matter cause that may not be the case, it’s onerous to imagine there can be a brief record with out Kamala’s title on it. She’s the vice chairman of the USA.”

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