Kamala Harris carves out foreign policy niche with eye to the future

The effort involves Harris taking a more prominent role in outreach to U.S. allies so that she can build a personal rapport with leaders of other countries and international organizations. Since taking office, Harris has reached out to the director-general of the World Health Organization regarding America’s role in the COVID-19 response, held calls with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, made a State Department speech, and taken part in the inaugural bilateral meeting between the U.S. and Canada, reports Politico. She has also been meeting weekly with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a veteran diplomat, national security expert, and former top aide to Biden in the Senate. 

And while White House officials have not detailed the vice president’s domestic portfolio, they have already designated cybersecurity and global health as her key areas of focus in the international arena. 

“The interest in her from outside is really about: Is she the future of the Democratic Party?” one Asian ambassador told Politico anonymously. “Biden in a way represents the traditional white male politician. And Vice President Harris is in many ways the future: female, blended family … But her policy views, they are still waiting to be shaped out.”

In some ways, not being boxed in is an advantage for Harris. International politics are particularly dynamic, just like domestic politics are these days. So getting on-the-job training while she isn’t directly responsible for key decisions is about as ideal as it gets. 

Harris also spent four years on the Senate Intelligence Committee, where staffers from both sides of the aisle praised her work, according to Politico. In fact, her position on the committee made Harris a central player for the incoming Biden administration, giving it access to national security briefings during the transition period when the Trump administration was still stonewalling.

Importantly, Harris’ exposure to the committee work has given her a foundation in national security issues from which to build. Now her more global focus as Biden’s No. 2 is offering Harris a chance to layer on a host of personal relationships at the international level that will give her firm footing on the global stage.

As one European ambassador put it, “She will be seen by everyone as a potential president in waiting. … Much more than in previous presidencies.”

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