A friend of mine has a sign saying, “War Is Not The Answer,” in his front yard. He, along with millions of other Americans, voted for President Obama because of this sentiment. Obama promised to end the war in Iraq. But here he is building a bigger war in Afghanistan. He justifies it by saying we have to root out the bad guys that are still hanging around the barren mountains of that country. He is intent on getting “Benny Laden” and his gang.

Isn’t it time to take a serious look at how we use war to achieve our goals? In what I call a brilliant exercise the US war machine toppled the Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2002 by getting the Afghans themselves to do the job. Yes, war lords carried the freight and in return solidified their control over their de facto fiefdoms. But the Taliban were gone.

In some respects it parallels the first Gulf War in which we used overwhelming force to free Kuwait. The brilliance in that case is that we achieved our goal and then pulled out. No time or money spent in trying to build a new nation, just rescue an independent country from a 19th Century land grab.

The main problem with Iraq is that we stayed too long. George Bush actually believed we could create a new “shining democracy” on the Tigrus. We should have taken a lesson from the first Gulf War and left after knocking out Saddam’s military. Yes, there would have been internal stife, but nothing we have done since then has lessened that strife. We have to learn to leave sorting out the new order to the people who have to live with that order.

I now see President Obama attempting to build a strong democracy in Afghanistan, free of the Taliban and other potential threats. Here we are once more trying to impose a new order on another land through our military. Sounds familiar, you bet.