In France, Kamala Harris Searches for Role on Global Stage


PARIS — Vice President Kamala Harris spent hours talking with Emmanuel Macron, the French president, managing to skirt a current 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 US to hitch a nonbinding international declaration to guard civilians towards 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 scores for President Biden and Ms. Harris inside the US, additionally supplied an opportunity to cement the worldwide profile of the vice chairman, who has demonstrated aspirations for increased workplace.

“I believe there isn’t any 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 US has because it pertains to France.”

However 10 months into her vice presidency, Ms. Harris’s monitor report on delivering on the administration’s international priorities has been combined.

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 have been nonetheless attempting 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 Middle on the US and Europe on the Brookings Establishment. “I believe she’s been fairly below the radar.”

The primary diplomatic achievement Ms. Harris brings house from the journey was the announcement on Wednesday that the US had joined a French-led international initiative to guard civilians towards 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 US and Britain.

Ms. Harris’s assembly with Mr. Macron got here at a very difficult time, Ms. Belin stated, as France — like the US — 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 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 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 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 US 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 right stability between attempting to determine productive relationships and being terribly frank,” stated Stephen McFarland, a former ambassador to Guatemala through the Obama administration. Nonetheless, he added, that message had performed 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 through 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 through the Vietnam Battle.

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 notice 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 saved her largely freed from controversy and allowed her to determine a higher presence, nonetheless managed, on the world stage than on previous journeys, she is going through important headwinds at house.

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 celebration questioning whether the White House is taking the right cues from American voters.

There’s additionally the problem of lagging approval scores for each President Biden and Ms. Harris: a current USA Today-Suffolk University poll discovered that 28 p.c of voters accepted 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 performed, and stated the vice chairman’s political future may embody being part of an extended listing of Democratic candidates ought to the Biden presidency be restricted to at least one time period.

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



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