Biden in 2010 reportedly told a US diplomat ‘f— that’ when asked if the US should stay in Afghanistan to prevent a humanitarian crisis

Joe Biden soldiers troops Bagram Kabul Afghanistan
US Vice President Joe Biden with US soldiers at Bagram airbase, north of Kabul, January 12, 2011.
  • Biden in 2010 reportedly argued the US did not have an obligation to stay in Afghanistan.
  • "F--- that, we don't have to worry about that. We did it in Vietnam, Nixon and Kissinger got away with it," he reportedly said.
  • Biden is facing criticism over the US withdrawal from Afghanistan after the Taliban retook the country.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden has wanted the US to get out of Afghanistan for years.

When Biden was vice president in 2010, he told a top US diplomat - Richard Holbrooke - that it was time to pull troops out of Afghanistan regardless of the humanitarian consequences, according to a report in The Atlantic from earlier in the year, which has a newfound relevance following the Taliban's reconquest of the country.

Not long after the Taliban was defeated following the 2001 invasion by the US, Biden as a senator toured a school in Kabul and was confronted by a young girl. "You cannot leave. They will not deny me learning to read. I will read, and I will be a doctor like my mother. America must stay," the girl said, per comments Biden made to the New Yorker in 2004.

Biden characterized meeting this girl as "a catalytic event for me," stating that she was essentially saying to him, "Don't f--- with me, Jack. You got me in here. You said you were going to help me. You'd better not leave me now."

But Biden's views changed over the years as the conflict raged on.

Holbrooke, who was the Obama administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2010, asked Biden whether the US had a moral obligation to remain in Afghanistan to protect people like that little girl.

"F--- that, we don't have to worry about that. We did it in Vietnam, Nixon and Kissinger got away with it," Biden replied, according to Holbrooke's diary, as cited by the Atlantic.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

When Biden was a senator in 1975, he objected to providing funding to help evacuate South Vietnamese, many of whom were desperate to get out of the country as it fell to North Vietnamese troops. "The US has no obligation to evacuate one, or 100,001, South Vietnamese," Biden said at the time, though after Saigon fell he did vote in favor of a resolution welcoming Vietnamese refugees.

As Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban in recent days, many have pointed to parallels with the fall of Saigon. And there's been a major push in Washington for the US do more to help Afghan translators and others who assisted the US during the war. These Afghans could now face reprisals with the Taliban in control.

The Biden administration has faced bipartisan criticism over the nature of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, particularly in relation to providing assistance and visas to Afghans who helped the US, which has ramped up now that the Taliban has regained control of the country.

"I have placed Ambassador Tracey Jacobson in charge of a whole-of-government effort to process, transport, and relocate Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other Afghan allies. Our hearts go out to the brave Afghan men and women who are now at risk," Biden said in a statement on Saturday. "We are working to evacuate thousands of those who helped our cause and their families."

Harrowing images have emerged from the Kabul airport showing Afghans desperately scrambling to get onto flights out of the country, with some clinging to an airplane as it took off.

At least seven people have died in the chaos at the airport, USA Today reported, where US troops have struggled to maintain control. Flights were grounded on Monday amid the mayhem.

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