Harris affirms global ties at security event

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks Friday during the Munich Security Conference in Munich.
(AP/Kai Pfaffenbach)
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks Friday during the Munich Security Conference in Munich. (AP/Kai Pfaffenbach)

MUNICH -- Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday warned of the dangers of growing authoritarianism and isolationism in a not-so-veiled repudiation of Donald Trump's worldview and threats to renege on security guarantees for NATO allies should he return to the White House.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Harris offered a broad defense of the Biden administration's approach to global challenges, especially in leading international support for Ukraine in its war with Russia. Her comments came as Ukraine risks losing U.S. support as a result of congressional dysfunction and positions taken by Trump and many of his supporters.

Amid an atmosphere of deep angst at the conference that was punctuated by the news Friday of the death in prison of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Harris said the United States would not back down on supporting democracy and multilateralism as well as defending international rules and norms from attempts to subvert them.

"Isolation is not insulation," she said. "In fact, when America has isolated herself, threats have only grown. In these unsettled times it is clear America cannot retreat. America must stand strong for democracy. We must stand in defense of international rules and norms and we must stand with our allies.

"However, there are some in the United States who disagree," she said. "They suggest it is in the best interest of the American people to isolate ourselves from the world, to flout common understandings among nations, to embrace dictators and adopt the repressive tactics and abandon commitments to our allies in favor of unilateral action.

"Let me be clear: That worldview is dangerous, destabilizing and indeed shortsighted," Harris said without mentioning Trump by name. "That view would weaken American and undermine global stability and undermine global prosperity. President Biden and I therefore reject that view."

Earlier, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres delivered a stark and somber assessment of the current state of the world, lamenting not only the war in Ukraine but also the current situation in Gaza, where Israel appears poised to launch a major operation against Hamas in the southern city of Rafah.

"It's clear that our world is in deep trouble," Guterres said. "Global governance in its present form is entrenching divisions and fueling discontent.

"Today we see countries doing whatever they like, with no accountability. Impunity seems to be the name of the game," he said, noting in particular the war in Ukraine.

Harris sounded many of the same concerns. Earlier this month, Trump sent shivers through Europe when he said he would not come to the defense of NATO allies that do not meet defense spending commitments.

Harris said the Biden administration's "sacred commitment to NATO remains ironclad."

"Imagine if America turned our back on Ukraine and abandoned our NATO allies and abandoned our treaty commitments. Imagine if we went easy on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, let alone encouraged him."

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