Warren slams endless war during Democratic debate: 'We're going in circles'


Her comments echo the findings of the Afghanistan Papers, which revealed the extent to which U.S. military officials misled the American public on the decades-long Afghanistan War.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) criticized U.S. military policy in the Middle East at Tuesday's seventh Democratic primary debate, slamming officials' repeated claims that the tide was turning and saying it was time to bring troops home.

Warren stated that while most of the Democratic candidates agreed that endless wars were bad, the challenge was "when and how" to withdraw from them. She specifically noted the war in Afghanistan — started in 2001 by former President George W. Bush — was still ongoing nearly two decades later, despite repeated claims by the Defense Department that progress was imminent.

"We have one general after another in Afghanistan who comes in and says, 'You know, we've just turned the corner and now it's all going to be different,'" said Warren, who serves on the Senate Armed Services committee. "And then what happens? It's all the same for another year. Someone new comes in and 'we've just turned the corner.'"

She quipped, "We've turned the corner so many times, we're going in circles in these regions."

Warren's remarks echo the findings of the Afghanistan Papers, an extensive Washington Post report published in December that revealed how the U.S. government had consistently mislead the American public about the ongoing conflict.

"U.S. officials constantly said they were making progress. They were not, and they knew it," the report documented, citing transcripts of interviews from the Lessons Learned project by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Those transcripts, the paper concluded, show that "George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump and their military commanders have been unable to deliver on their promises to prevail in Afghanistan."

Businessman Tom Steyer also criticized the lack of a plan in Afghanistan under both Trump and his predecessors. "If you look further over the last 20 years, including in the war in Afghanistan, we know from the Washington Post that, in fact, there was no strategy. There was just a series of tactical decisions that made no sense."

Earlier in the debate, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), were asked about their votes to authorize military force in Afghanistan in 2001 and, in Biden's case, Iraq in 2002. Biden was serving as the Democratic senator from Delaware at the time; Sanders, a congressman.

Biden said his Iraq vote was a mistake, but hailed his own efforts to end the conflict during the Obama years. Sanders, who has said he regrets his Afghanistan vote, noted that only one member of Congress — Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California — had voted no and that he had subsequently seen through the Bush administration's false claims about Iraq.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.