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V.P. Biden Dismissed Humanitarian Case for Afghanistan Troop Presence: ‘I’m Not Sending My Boy’ to Risk His Life for ‘Women’s Rights’

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Nashua, N.H., February 4, 2020. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Joe Biden was a frequent critic of the Afghanistan war effort while in the Obama administration and advocated against keeping U.S. troops in the country on humanitarian grounds, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

“I am not sending my boy back there to risk his life on behalf of women’s rights!” the former vice president shouted at former special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, during a meeting between the two in 2010. “It just won’t work, that’s not what they’re there for.” Biden’s son Beau was a member of the National Guard who deployed to Iraq in 2009.

Biden was deeply skeptical of the Afghan government’s ability to function effectively due to entrenched corruption. In one 2010 Situation Room meeting, then-U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry said it was doubtful Afghan president Hamid Karzai would be able to stop corruption and theft in the government.

“It would be politically suicidal for Karzai to do that,” Eikenberry said via video feed.

“That’s what I’ve been saying!” Biden said. “That’s exactly what I told you!”

Biden continued to be skeptical of the Afghan war effort throughout his tenure as vice president.

The continuing war in Afghanistan came under renewed scrutiny in December when the Washington Post released what it dubbed the “Afghanistan Papers,” a collection of government documents showing U.S. officials repeatedly misled the public regarding the progress of the war.

Three-star Army general Douglas Lute, a senior adviser to the Obama and Bush administrations, was quoted as saying the U.S. lacked “a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan” and “didn’t know what we were doing.”

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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