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Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants crowd into the Herat Kabul Internet cafe

Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants crowd into the Herat Kabul Internet cafe to apply for the SIV program on August 8, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Many Afghans are in desperate need of assistance completing the forms and obtaining required human resources letters, a particular challenge for those whose U.S. government work ended years ago. (Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

There 'Will Never Be' a US Military Solution in Afghanistan: Rep. Barbara Lee

The California Democrat was the only member of Congress to vote against the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Andrea Germanos

Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee—who cast the sole vote against the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that was used to justify the war in Afghanistan—reiterated on Sunday her assessment that "there is no military solution" to address the worsening chaos in that country.

Lee's (D-Calif.) remarks came in an interview on MSNBC's "American Voices with Alicia Menendez" as the Taliban effectively took control of the country and desperate Afghans tried to flee.

"Our focus now," said Lee, "has got to be... the safety and security of everyone at this moment, and I think it's a very dire situation."

"This is an example, though, that there is no military solution," she said. "We've been there 20 years, we have spent over a trillion dollars, and we have trained over 300,000 of the Afghan forces," Lee added, calling the current situation "a tragedy."

Citing Brown University's Costs of War Project's estimate that the war in Afghanistan cost U.S. taxpayers over $2 trillion, guest host Anand Giridharadas asked Lee about just where all the money ended up. 

After acknowledging the hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and Afghan civilians who lost their lives as a result of the war, the California Democrat pointed to "many, many reports [showing] that there was an enormous amount of corruption" and graft. 

"It was just an untenable situation," she said.

Asked if the U.S. would learn any lessons from current disaster, Lee said: "Listen, 20 years ago I said that there was no military solution in Afghanistan. Of course we have to deal with the terrorist threats, of course we have to deal with national security."

"But," she said, "we have to remember we have three stools of our foreign and military policy: diplomacy, development, and defense." And those three aspects have "been out of balance."

"We need to get back to rebalancing," said Lee, praising the Biden administration for what she said was "doing the right thing" by pulling out of Afghanistan.

Lee's 2001 vote against the AUMF was referenced on Sunday by MSNBC political analyst Mehdi Hasan in a Twitter thread in which he lamented that "those of us who warned against invading and occupying Afghanistan 20 years ago have been tragically, awfully, vindicated."

"I also wish everyone had listened to Rep. Barbara Lee back in September 2001," he wrote.

According to the Costs of War Project, over 5.3 million Afghans have been displaced since the U.S. occupation and invasion in 2001. The project further estimates that 241,000 people have died as a direct result of the war.


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