Kamala Harris under closer scrutiny – Yasmeen Aftab Ali


How will Harris’s successful election impact American foreign policy? This is important. Biden has made it clear he will not run for President in 2024, even if elected in the forthcoming elections-it clearly means Harris will step in his shoes after his term is up.

The California electoral votes will not turn red in all likelihood, so Biden loses the new breed of incoming voters that his nomination cannot win. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, or Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) may just have swung those votes for him. What Biden’s choice implies is that he sees Kamala Harris as the new face of the Democratic Party. “Pew also cites research showing that Indian Americans overwhelmingly lean toward the Democrats, with 50% identifying with the party versus only 18% calling themselves Republicans.”

Harris’s choice can be however, a double edged sword. Let’s see how.

Whereas, Harris has been vocal on the human rights violations by China towards the Uighurs; “China’s abysmal human rights record must feature prominently in our policy toward the country. We can’t ignore China’s mass detention of more than a million Uighur Muslims in “reeducation camps” in the Xinjiang region, or its widespread abuse of surveillance for political and religious repression. Under my administration, we will cooperate with China on global issues like climate change, but we won’t allow human rights abuses to go unchecked. The United States must reclaim our own moral authority and work with like-minded nations to stand up forcefully for human rights in China and around the world.”(Response extract from her interview to CFR).

Unfortunately, her world does not include India. Though she has not offered much in terms of opinion once Senator in 2017-some acts or lack thereof do catch the eye. She made no comments on human right issues in India. A twat contradictory to her stance against China. After India abrogated Article 370 followed by abrogation of Article 35A that is changing the demographic face of Indian held Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019-Harris stayed silent. There was not a word uttered unlike other Democratic lawmakers who were open about condemning this act.

In September 2018, Harris wrote to the Department of Homeland Security asking not to revoke the right of spouses of H-1B visa holders to seek employment. Interestingly, those most affected by this rule were Indian women who came with their husbands to U.S associated mostly with the information technology sector.

Harris also championed for removal of the cap for quotas that allowed per nation a certain quantumgetting green cards. Indians are historically speaking the largest in terms of numbers applying for the green card. If the cap is removed, Indians will benefit the most.

If one recalls, as a Senator in 2006, Biden had declared, “My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States.” Later in 2008, Biden garnered support of other Democrats to back the India -US civil nuclear deal.

Harris supports bringing an end to the Afghan war. She is spot on when she says, “I fully recognize the importance of diplomacy and development to success in Afghanistan.”

Her views on sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia is interesting. A mixed bag of goodies so to speak. She has on record opposed U.S. support to Saudi Arab led-war in Yemen. She did vote to block arms sales to Saudi Arab, a move vetoed by President Trump. “The United States and Saudi Arabia still have mutual areas of interest, such as counterterrorism, where the Saudis have been strong partners. And we should continue to coordinate on that front. But we need to fundamentally reevaluate our relationship with Saudi Arabia, using our leverage to stand up for American values and interests.” (Response extract from her interview to CFR).

Although in light of the new order of nations framing; the U.S needs, yes needs, to have oil rich Saudi Arab as an ally who in turn can have smaller Muslim nations at their beck and call. If Biden-Harris wins, there may be some areas of ‘unlock’ between the two.

Her approach towards Israel; supports it as a ‘critical’ ally but also supports two-nation theory for long term peace. By 2050, Africa will account for 25% of world population, something Harris seems to have processed. “The United States must engage now and build strong diplomatic and economic partnerships with these nations or illiberal countries like China and Russia will fill the gaps,” says Harris.

Kamala Harris’s stance on different issues during the Presidential campaign was-icky! Having a moderate as a Senator and Attorney General, she spoke on issues sounding highly unconvincing. For example the Green New Deal environmental programme. Appearing to be sincere is a prized virtue. The core reason that helped Trump win. He may have taken wrong stances but was obviously very sincere about what he supported.

So far as Pakistan is concerned; a Biden-Harris team in White House will mean continuation of some policies as they serve the ‘bigger picture’. However, on some levels things may become trickier for Pakistan. The team’s leaning towards India is unmistakable. Let us not forget though, it is in line with the present stance of Trump’s government as well; to support India in order to suppress China. However, there is a very clear difference as to ‘why’ based on why the stance. The reasoning is poles apart. Whereas Trump takes actions which he sees places “America First” to the exclusion of all else-Harris’s approach seems to be based on her genetics mixed with overall politics. Maybe, the apple has not fallen very far from the tree after all?