Sen. Kamala D. Harris has been known to speak out in favor of increasing U.S. aid to unstable foreign nations, arguing it will reduce the long-term need for U.S. military interventions around the world.
She also has an international background, having traveled as the daughter of a Jamaican-born father and an Indian-born mother to India as a child and kept close ties to her relatives outside the U.S. as an adult.
But American foreign policy doctrine has not been a defining aspect of Ms. Harris’ political career, and analysts say it’s unlikely her views on international issues factored much into presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden’s decision to pick her as his number two.
What Ms. Harris is known for is criticizing President Trump, and an analysis of her comments over recent years suggests she’s aligned with Mr. Biden’s belief that the best path forward is to return to such Obama-era initiatives as the Iran nuclear and Paris climate deals.
Mr. Biden announced his choice of the California native for his running mate Tuesday. Throughout her career, she has made history as the first female district attorney general for San Francisco, first female attorney general for California, the first Indian-American elected to the Senate and the second Black female senator.
During her first press conference as Mr. Biden’s VP pick, she lashed out at Mr. Trump for using Twitter to announce foreign policy moves, asserting that “we cannot conduct our foreign policy through tweets.”
“My concern is that when we make decisions about what we will do in terms of our military presence, much less our diplomatic priorities, that we do that in a way that will involve consultation with our military leaders, in a way that would involve some kind of consultation, or at least outreach to our allies around the globe,” Ms. Harris said.
As a senator, Ms. Harris has rallied for greater American involvement in human rights issues and has called for a “robust diplomatic corps and principled engagement throughout the world.”
“Foreign aid isn’t charity — it’s in our interest,” she said in a speech at the National Democratic Institute’s 2017 Madeleine K. Albright Luncheon in 2017.
In a Q&A with the Council on Foreign Relations last December, she slammed China’s human rights record as “abysmal,” vowed to “stand up to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin in defense of democratic values, human rights, and the international rule of law,” and called to end U.S. support of the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
While Ms. Harris is widely seen to disagree with Mr. Trump style of posturing toward China, there are indications she may privately agree with the administration’s aggressive Beijing policy.
Ms. Harris has backed efforts to apply pressure on China for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, although China’s foreign ministry has thus far declined to comment on Mr. Biden’s announcement of her as his running mate.
A member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Ms. Harris has looked to her career as a prosecutor to climb the ladder of the secretive panel. She became a prominent Democratic voice on the committee during the Senate’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged links to the Trump campaign.
Ms. Harris rose into the national spotlight by pumping the narrative that the Kremlin meddled to make Hillary Clinton lose the election.
“The facts are indisputable,” Ms. Harris has said. “Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election and did so to help Donald Trump.”
She has also consistently warned of broader threats posed by Russia including potential interference in the current election. “Given that we are in another election year, we must do everything in our power to protect our election system and ensure it is free from foreign interference and domestic voter suppression,” she has said.
On Iran, Ms. Harris has accused the Trump administration of generating a crisis by pulling out of the Obama-era nuclear deal in 2018. She has argued the deal could have been made stronger without U.S. withdrawal.
“I believe that we need to get back into the Iran nuclear deal, I would strengthen it, I would include ballistic missile testing,” she told CBS in an interview during her presidential campaign.
While many of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy and defense initiatives are likely to be overturned under a Biden administration, Ms. Harris is expected to back ongoing efforts to strike a peace deal with Afghanistan and to bring American troops back to the states.
Following a congressional delegation trip to Afghanistan in 2018, she said that she is “eager to find a political solution to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan so we can bring U.S. servicemembers and national security professionals home.”
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