One question which persisted throughout last week's incredibly botched and woefully ill-prepared US evacuation from Afghanistan, which is still spiraling into what will be a weeks-long logistics nightmare, was: where's Kamala Harris?
No doubt seeking to put distance between herself and the unfolding fiasco which proved such a political bomb for Biden that even CNN and other normatively sycophantic networks momentarily turned on the Democratic president, she wasn't heard from for days. One headline questioned: Where’s Kamala? 'Last person in room' Harris silent 6 days amid Afghan pullout chaos.
Vice President Harris kicked off her planned tour of southeast Asia, arriving in Singapore on Monday. And though the purpose of this her second foreign trip as Biden's VP is shoring up support from regional allies to counter Chinese influence, the ongoing Afghan debacle is taking center stage. She said during her Singapore press conference that the US remains "singularly focused" on completing the ongoing urgent evacuations of Americans in Afghanistan.
Sounding on the defensive and clearly attempting to preempt the avalanche of criticism being heaped on the US administration both at home and internationally, she said while standing alongside Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that the time for evaluating how things were executed will come later.
"There is going to be plenty of time to analyze what has happened and what has taken place in the context of the withdrawal from Afghanistan," Harris said at the joint news conference.
"But right now we are singularly focused on evacuating American citizens, Afghans who have worked with us and Afghans who are vulnerable, including women and children and that is our singular focus at this time," she added.
Naturally the subtext here is that she'll once again go into hiding to avoid all those awkward Afghan exit questions. As NY Post recounts of last week:
Since then, she has only appeared in still photos put out by the White House. Her only public statements have been on Twitter. She was not by Biden’s side, as she has been on other occasions, when he attempted to defend his decision to withdraw all US combat forces from Afghanistan in a White House address Monday.
Singapore PM Lee for his part noted his country has offered transport aircraft to help with evacuations while underscoring that "We hope Afghanistan does not become an epicenter for terrorism again."
Vice President Kamala Harris said during a visit to Singapore that the U.S. was focusing on evacuation efforts taking place in Afghanistan and that there would be plenty of time to analyze the context of the troop withdrawal https://t.co/3D24Dm7Lkg pic.twitter.com/pYvc22s43n— Reuters (@Reuters) August 23, 2021
She also met with Singapore President Halimah Yacob and is expected to meet with Vietnam leaders next by the end of the week, where with both countries she said the US is seeking to "reinforce a shared vision of a free and open Indo Pacific region".
More to the point of the visit, she said at the press conference: "I reaffirmed in our meeting the United States’ commitment to working with our allies and partners around the Indo Pacific to uphold the rules-based international order, and freedom of navigation, including in the South China Sea," in reference to disputed waters in which China has expanding territorial claims.