November 29, 2021

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In France, Kamala Harris Searches for Position on World Stage

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 he or she secured a dedication for the USA to hitch 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 say 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 larger workplace.

“I believe 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 document on delivering on the administration’s world priorities has been blended.

Earlier journeys, to Southeast Asia and Central America, served as essential exams on collaborating with allies and confronting adversaries on the worldwide stage. Consultants stated they had 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 believe she’s been actually hidden this complete 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 believe she’s been fairly below the radar.”

The principle diplomatic achievement Ms. Harris brings residence 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. That 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 troublesome re-election marketing campaign subsequent yr and a likely challenge from a far-right firebrand, and in response has moved to the fitting 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 typically has lunch with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to debate international coverage points — got here with not one of the blunt messaging she has delivered on different journeys overseas. Throughout her first international journey as vice chairman, to Guatemala, she got here with robust messages on two difficult points whilst 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 are going to look to root out corruption wherever it exists,” she stated.

“She struck the proper steadiness between making an attempt to ascertain productive relationships and being terribly frank,” stated Stephen McFarland, a former ambassador to Guatemala throughout 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.

Nevertheless it got here throughout 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 throughout the Vietnam Warfare.

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 observe about American dedication to the southeast area in addition to the broader Indo-Pacific.”

Throughout her journey, Ms. Harris additionally took a troublesome 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 stored 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 residence.

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

There’s 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 authorized of the job the vice chairman is doing.

Symone Sanders, Ms. Harris’s press secretary and senior adviser, informed 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, and stated the vice chairman’s political future may embrace being part of an extended listing 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 purpose which may not be the case, it’s exhausting to imagine there could be a brief listing with out Kamala’s identify on it. She’s the vice chairman of the USA.”

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