In Munich, Harris Aims to Reassure European Allies as Trump Disparages NATO

In Munich, Harris Aims to Reassure European Allies as Trump Disparages NATO

As Air Force Two taxied for takeoff certain for Germany, Vice President Kamala Harris made her manner by means of the aircraft handing out heart-shaped Valentine’s Day cookies. It was good follow for her journey to the Munich Security Conference, the place her mission can be to reassure European allies that America nonetheless loves them.

Arriving in Munich at the same time as House Republicans block army support to Ukraine and former President Donald J. Trump vows to encourage Russia to assault “delinquent” NATO allies, Ms. Harris has the unenviable activity of telling European leaders to not fear an excessive amount of about these issues. And she faces the problem of creating the case that Mr. Trump and his backers are mistaken in regards to the worth of alliances.

While the conferences she and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken could have in Munich can be aimed toward calming European leaders, the speech she’s going to ship to the convention on Friday can be aimed as a lot on the American viewers again dwelling. Without mentioning Mr. Trump by title, officers mentioned, she plans to make use of the platform to forcefully rebut the previous president who’s aiming to reclaim his previous job, arguing that worldwide partnerships are crucial to American safety, not a burden to be calmly discarded.

It can even be an opportunity for her to show herself on the world stage in an election yr through which her operating mate, President Biden, faces questions on his age. While nobody within the White House would say this too overtly, Ms. Harris’s problem within the marketing campaign is to show that she is as much as the job in order that voters is not going to fear about re-electing an 81-year-old president who can be 86 on the finish of a second time period.

“I’m able to serve. There’s no query about that,” Ms. Harris informed The Wall Street Journal in an interview printed this week. Anyone who interacts together with her, she mentioned, “walks away absolutely conscious of my capability to guide.”

Munich has been a well-liked platform for Ms. Harris to attempt to showcase that for years. In 2022, she spoke simply days earlier than Russia invaded Ukraine, calling it a “defining second” for the world. Last yr, she used the convention to accuse Russia of “crimes in opposition to humanity” in Ukraine, elevating the diplomatic stakes of the battle.

She was already planning to talk this yr on the risks of American isolationism even earlier than Mr. Trump informed a marketing campaign rally final week that if elected once more he not solely wouldn’t defend NATO members attacked by Russia in the event that they “didn’t pay” sufficient, however he would even “encourage” Russia “to do regardless of the hell they need” to the allies. The ensuing furor made her theme all of the extra salient.

A White House official, previewing the speech on the situation of anonymity, mentioned she would use it to denounce the “failed ideologies of isolationism, authoritarianism and unilateralism” represented by Mr. Trump, and argue that his strategy to overseas coverage might result in a world of dysfunction. She will concentrate on what the official described as 4 selections — globally engaged versus isolationist, worldwide guidelines and norms versus chaos, democratic values versus authoritarianism and collective motion versus unilateralism.

Perhaps as essential, she’s going to attempt to persuade world leaders that she and Mr. Biden will win in November regardless of rising doubts amongst European leaders and analysts, who’re already fascinated by contingencies for a second Trump presidency.

Former Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat who traveled on Air Force Two with Ms. Harris, mentioned the vice chairman can be pressured to clarify the intransigence on Capitol Hill to approve extra Ukraine support though by most assessments it has the assist of a bipartisan majority. “The actual villain is Congress, which thrives on blaming the opposite facet for not fixing issues,” mentioned Ms. Harman. “Trump exploits this brilliantly, although I hate to present him any credit score.”

But many Europeans additionally stay unsure about Ms. Harris herself, sustaining that she has but to carve out a transparent identification. “Does she have any views and does she have any explicit data?” requested François Heisbourg, a senior adviser for Europe on the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “Who is she?” He mentioned that he didn’t imply it “as a pejorative,” including, “It’s only a bewilderment.”

Ms. Harris could have an opportunity to outline herself in a sequence of conferences with world leaders. She is scheduled to take a seat down individually with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany on Saturday, classes more likely to concentrate on how Ukraine can grasp on in opposition to Russian forces whereas ready for U.S. army support that will or might not come.

European officers are more and more predicting that American disengagement might result in additional Russian aggression. German and Estonian officers have mentioned that Russia might assault a NATO member inside 5 to eight years, whereas Denmark’s protection chief put the window of hazard at three to 5 years.

The darkish temper in Munich would require intense American comforting, analysts mentioned. “If hand-wringing have been an Olympic sport, we’re going to be handing out a number of medals,” mentioned Heather A. Conley, president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a gaggle that promotes the trans-Atlantic relationship.

Recognizing European uncertainty, the White House introduced on Thursday that Mr. Biden would host President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland for a joint assembly on the White House on March 12. It can be their first assembly since a centrist-progressive coalition received elections in October, ousting a nationalist authorities seen as aligned with Mr. Trump.

“The leaders will reaffirm their unwavering assist for Ukraine’s protection in opposition to Russia’s brutal battle of conquest,” the White House mentioned in an announcement saying the go to. “The assembly additionally coincides with the twenty fifth anniversary of Poland’s accession to NATO and underscores the United States’ and Poland’s shared ironclad dedication to the NATO alliance, which makes us all safer.”



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