During her CBS interview Sunday, Kamala Harris said that democracy is the most significant threat to the US national security.
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Amid President Joe Biden’s attempts to push his voting rights agenda through Congress, she offered a warning about threats to the ‘integrity’ of the American democratic system.
Harris also defended the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August during the final portion of her comprehensive interview released over the week, instead blaming the previous administration for setting the departure deadline first.
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‘What do you see is the biggest national security challenge confronting the U.S.? What is the thing that worries you and keeps you up at night?’ asked Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan.
The vice president answered, ‘Frankly, one of them is our democracy. And that I can talk about because that’s not classified.’
‘There is I think no question in the minds of people who are foreign policy experts that the year 2021 is not the year 2000. You know, I think there’s so much about foreign and domestic policy that, for example, was guided and prioritized based on Sept 11, 2001.
‘And we are embarking on a- a new era where the threats to our nation take many forms, including the threat of autocracies taking over and having outsized influence around the world.’
She adjusted her initial comments, urging the need to ‘fight for the integrity of our democracy.’
At another point, Biden was praised for departing from another piece of post-9/11 policy by withdrawing from Afghanistan after a 20-year occupation.
Despite the president’s vow to stay until every American was out, Biden and his top officials came under bipartisan criticism for a botched withdrawal attempt that left 200 Americans and thousands of Afghan allies behind.
In August, an attack by a suicide bomber killed 170 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. service members outside Kabul airport.
Asked if she feels responsibility for the failure of the shambolic operation, Harris did not provide a clear answer, saying she was the ‘last person in the room’ when Biden made the critical decision.
In addition, she stated that Biden was following Donald Trump’s agreement with the Taliban to withdraw US troops.
As a result of negotiations that excluded the American-backed Afghan government, Trump negotiated the departure of all US troops months earlier than Biden would.
‘I fully supported the president’s decision to after what was taking on the fact of being an endless war, of pulling American troops out, and I think it’s really important to remember that the previous administration negotiated a deal with the Taliban, did not invite the Afghan government to be at the table, and negotiated a deal that- that required and promised as part of an agreement that we would pull out by the end of May,’ Harris said.
‘So, we were saddled with that responsibility based on an agreement between the United States and the Taliban.’
According to her, following through on the deal wasn’t something she ‘regrets’, since the alternative could have led to even more conflict.
‘We made the decision that if we were to break the agreement, it would have been a whole other situation, and right now I strongly believe that had we broken that agreement, we would be talking about the war in Afghanistan,’ Harris claimed.
‘And American troops in Afghanistan, and we’re not talking about that. I don’t regret that.’
Harris was asked by Brennan how she balanced her decades of fighting for women and girls with her concerns about the plight of Afghan women under the Taliban’s repressive rule.
‘One of our big issues in terms of any conversations with the Taliban is exactly this point, which is the condition, the status and the treatment of women and girls, including for girls, access to education, not to mention our concern about counterterrorism and what we need to do in terms of that threat,’ Harris said, adding, ‘these are real issues there’s no question.’
According to her, the US was partnering with the United Nations in ‘bypassing the Taliban’ in order to ensure women and girls were getting the aid they needed.
In an effort to ease Afghanistan’s post-upheaval economic crisis, the Biden administration said earlier this week it wanted to expand the flow of aid to humanitarian organizations without worrying about potential misuse by the Taliban.
‘I worry that the Taliban has not complied with what we know to be the appropriate treatment and the right treatment of girls and women, and that’s why we are taking the posture that we are with the Taliban right now, because that is one of our greatest considerations and concerns,’ Harris said.
As the evacuation was plodding along in late August, the vice president faced her own criticism of how she handled the Afghanistan crisis.
There was a video published on August 23 of a reporter trying to ask Harris about the Americans still stuck in Afghanistan and trying to leave.
‘Hold on, hold on, hold on,’ Harris said before the reporter could finish.
‘Slow down, everybody,’ she said after a big laugh.
‘I want to talk about two things,’ Harris then said. ‘First, Afghanistan, we couldn’t have a higher priority right now,’
‘And in particular high priority is making sure that we safely evacuate American citizens, Afghans who worked with us, Afghans at risk, including women and children, and that is one of our highest if not the highest priority right now.’
‘And it’s a big area of focus for me in the past days and weeks, and will continue to be,’ she added.
Nevertheless, she still received criticism for going days without speaking out about the plight of women and girls before promising the US would continue to secure their protection.
Harris was also asked about her role as Biden’s border czar in her CBS interview.
In March, when President Obama selected Harris to lead the federal government’s response to out-of-control migration to the southern border, Harris only spent two days in Guatemala and Mexico working on the issue.
She was criticized by civil rights groups and her own party for infamously telling people in Guatemala not to go to the border.
‘When I was in Guatemala, I talked with the Guatemalan people about what I’ve talked to folks in this very room who have convened about this issue, which is the vast majority of people, wherever they are from, don’t want to leave home. They don’t want to leave the language they speak,’ said Harris on Sunday.
Despite the Guatemalan president’s recent comments that he hasn’t heard from Harris since June, Harris made it clear that dealing with the ‘root causes’ of migration remains her primary focus.
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Her boss hasn’t dealt her a tough hand as he handed mammoth tasks like illegal immigration and elections to his deputy, defiantly declaring that she hasn’t been put in a difficult position.
‘But more important I’m the Vice President of the United States, anything that I handle is because it’s a tough issue, and it couldn’t be handled at some other level,’ Harris said.
‘And there are a lot of big, tough issues that need to be addressed. And it has actually been part of my lifelong career to deal with tough issues and this is no different.’
In her response, Harris refused to blame racism and misogyny on her criticism, saying: “I’ll leave that up to others.”.
Brennan bluntly asked Harris what her biggest failure was this year, to which Harris replied, ‘Not getting out of Washington more.’