Haven’t Ukrainians suffered enough? The Biden White House is considering sending Kamala Harris to Poland and Romania to show support for Ukrainians. While the gesture is likely to be met with appreciation, is she the right person for the task?
Joe Biden is trying to beef up Kamala’s foreign policy cred, we know that. In order to support his vice-president and her own presidential ambitions, he knows she needs some practice meeting with world leaders and foreign dignitaries. She has been sent to the Northern Triangle to talk to the leaders in Central America about illegal migration to the United States. She traveled to Asia and offered support to Singapore and Vietnam. In Vietnam, she pledged support against China’s aggression in the South China Sea. In Singapore, she offered reassurances of support against Chinese aggression but the big headline from that stop on her tour was that she encouraged parents to shop early for Christmas toys for their children due to the expected supply chain crisis. She blamed climate change and the pandemic for supply chain woes.
Kamala was sent to Paris for four days of meetings with European leaders and to mark Armistice Day. The focus was on border security and migration. In Europe. I kid you not. She met with European leaders like Angela Merkel and Macron. The story that got the most attention among regular Americans, though, was about her shopping in Paris, including purchasing cookware. Most recently, Kamala went to the Munich Security Conference. That conference gave an opportunity for world leaders to come together and jawbone about doing whatever they could to deter a Russian invasion into Ukraine. How’d that work out?
So, here we are. It is as though the Biden administration doesn’t really know what to do with Kamala. It’s been important for her to appear to be an invaluable part of the team, offering advice and helping to make policy decisions. Joe Biden wants to include in his legacy that he had the first female vice-president in his administration, and she is a biracial woman. Like many diversity picks, she meets the gender and racial priorities but she’s sorely lacking in professional competence. She really likes to travel, apparently, and cites her lack of travel as her biggest failure as vice-president. She was referring to being too much into the Washington, D.C. bubble but her lack of success so far as vice-president goes deeper than that.
Kamala may go to Eastern Europe now to show American solidarity with Ukrainians. The discussion includes sending her to the Polish capital of Warsaw and the Romanian capital of Bucharest. She also may visit American troops stationed in Romania and a trip to the border with Ukraine, the center of a humanitarian emergency. Ukrainians are fleeing to both Poland and Romania for safety. Both countries are welcoming the refugees. In Munich, Kamala met with Zelensky. There is no mention of another meeting between the two during this trip, if she goes.
There is no plan for a presidential visit to the area in the works.
‘A presidential visit is a heavier logistical lift,’ the source said.
‘The vice president has a smaller footprint and is historically more nimble.’
Biden has mostly led from behind since Russia invaded Ukraine. He is taking the lead from European countries, members of NATO. It’s a delicate dance he’s doing – he doesn’t want to do anything that might give Putin the excuse to escalate his aggression, especially since he began making threats about using nuclear weapons. Zelensky was asked yesterday about his satisfaction with Biden’s response and Zelensky admitted the response was slow but he now has a good line of communication with Biden.
The US has already deployed an extra 3000 troops in Poland and Romania in recent days.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken left Thursday for a six-day trip to Belgium, Poland, Moldova and the Baltic states to help coordinate the international response.
Earlier the Ukrainian president complained that the US and the West had acted too late to protect his country from the might of the Russian army and described how ‘the end of the world has arrived’ during a news conference.
Zelensky appealed for more help during a defiant appearance in his capital Kyiv.
He repeated his plea for a NATO no-fly zone to protect his cities and troops.
And eight days into the war he said he now had good lines of communication with the President Joe Biden and other leaders, but lamented that they only stepped up their support once Russia launched its invasion.
‘It’s a pity it began after the beginning of this war, but we have it. And my appreciation to [Biden] and to his team. We can speak now often,’ he said
‘The whole world is late with Ukraine, making decisions.’
I made a little joke at the beginning of this post about the visit and the suffering of Ukrainians. Unfortunately, there is little reason to think that Kamala’s adventure to the area would do much of anything substantial. She’ll pose for photographs and there’s always the chance that she’ll burst into random cackling at the most inappropriate times. She makes us cringe. In Asia, she was habitually late for meetings. In Paris, she spoke with some kind of phony French accent while conversing with scientists at a laboratory. In Central America, her main message to those contemplating illegally migrating to the United States was simply, “Don’t come.”
So far, continued travel and exposure to world leaders hasn’t improved her appearances. If she must go, perhaps she can concentrate on visiting American troops and spotlighting their efforts to help Ukrainians. If the Biden administration decides to send her, we’ll just have to hope for the best.