The timing most likely couldn’t be worse for the Biden administration. On Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to embark on a visit throughout the Pacific that may embrace a cease in Vietnam.
The journey – which might be Harris’ second abroad enterprise since taking workplace – comes as the present disaster in Afghanistan has drawn many comparisons to the top of U.S. involvement in Vietnam within the Seventies.
This week’s scenes of crowds gathering at Kabul’s airport and U.S. navy helicopters arriving to choose up passengers on the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan’s capital revived grim recollections of determined Vietnamese individuals making an attempt to board U.S. helicopters as they left the embassy in Saigon greater than 4 a long time in the past.
The Vietnam Battle period was among the many most divisive intervals in American historical past, with the lengthy battle factoring into Democratic President Lyndon Johnson’s determination to not search re-election in 1968.
The prospect of Harris visiting Vietnam at this explicit second raised the potential of the worst photograph op for an American in that nation since Jane Fonda donned a helmet there in 1972.
As of Monday, Harris had no plans to cancel her journey, The Washington Put up reported.
The Afghanistan disaster prompted President Biden to shorten his Camp David vacation. He returned to the White Home on Tuesday evening as a substitute of Wednesday as he had deliberate.
‘Final particular person within the room’
In April, Harris informed CNN she was the “final particular person within the room” when Biden determined to tug U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Final weekend, because the disaster unfolded in Kabul, Harris once more met with Biden and White Home nationwide safety advisers – however this time Biden was alone at Camp David whereas others participated remotely.
Advance work in Asia
When Harris arrives in Vietnam subsequent Tuesday, after a cease in Singapore over the weekend, she would be the most senior Biden administration official to journey to Southeast Asia because the U.S. seems to be to assist its allies within the area as they cope with China’s shut proximity.
“She’s bought an ideal grasp on the problems, and her journey will little question assist to advance our pursuits on this very important area,” Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin stated this week in an announcement to The Washington Put up.
Forward of Harris’ deliberate go to, Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken just lately traveled to Japan and South Korea, whereas Austin additionally visited Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines, according to the Post.
William Danvers, an adjunct professor at George Washington College, claimed in an essay for The Hill this week that Harris’ expertise as a former U.S. senator from California means “she understands the significance of ties, particularly financial ties, between Asia and U.S.”
In July, Harris spokeswoman Symone Sanders said the vp will talk about with Asian leaders particulars about regional safety, the coronavirus pandemic, local weather change and “our joint effort to advertise a rules-based worldwide order” – a reference to regional disputes over China’s claims within the South China Sea.
In June, Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico as she sought to look at the “root causes” of the migrant disaster on the U.S.-Mexico border following her appointment in March as President Biden’s level particular person on the disaster.
That Latin American journey got here as Harris was dealing with relentless criticism for not visiting U.S. border communities which have been affected by the migrant disaster. Lastly, she visited El Paso, Texas, for just a few hours on June 25.
Whereas Harris has been exterior the U.S. solely as soon as as vp, she has on a number of events met with international leaders in Washington. After one such occasion, in Might, Harris drew criticism on social media after showing to wipe her hand after greeting South Korean President Moon Jae-in.