Remarkable, the Chairman of the Senate’s Armed Forces Committee, Democrat Carl Levin, has publicly warned President Obama that he will not support sending more troops to Afghanistan. At the same time Obama’s election foe, Senator John McCain, has publicly stated that we must send more troops to that country to prevent a military catastrophe. If Obama decides to send more troops, he will be seen as responding to the Republican view. If he follows the Democrat view, he may have trouble explaining a future debacle in that country. Not a happy situation for the President.

There is a chorus of voices out there urging that we not get involved in another “nation building” excercise, a la Iraq. They call for limiting our role to taking out Benny Laden and his gang and their cover, the Taliban. Or course it is hard to see how we do this if we withdraw from the battlefield. The US military is not John Rambo, who can drop behind enemy lines and single handedly eliminate the “bad guys.” No, the US military must pad the dirt in dogged pursuit of its quarry.

Perhaps the most important voice to listen to now is that of those who remind us that we took out the Taliban government in Afghanistan, not by direct action, but by getting the Afghans themselves to do the job. We developed a coalition of the “willing” from the vast array of local war lords and other strong men to remove the Taliban. Of course we supplied the were-with-all, including the money to pay off key players and hire on more guns. But the job was done by Afghanis, not “foreign devils,” i.e. the US military. The suggestion here is that we return to indirect action to keep the Taliban from returning to power and thus providing a shelter for Benny Laden, his gang and any other “terrorist” groups who need a safe place to pitch their tent. Millions for hit men, not for our men to get hit.

It all goes back to what I learned years ago in the Peace Corps. You must allow changes in a government or society to come from the people involved, not outsiders, i.e. Americans. You can help them when they ask, and with what they ask for, but you cannot lead the charge. No matter how goodly your objectives and motivations may be, you are the outsider meddling in their affairs.

Perhaps the best lesson we learned in this respect was in Somalia. We sent our troops into that sorry country to protect the delivery of food stuffs to people starving to death. We wound up being blamed for causing the whole mess and with our troops being sitting ducks for Somali armed thugs. We withdrew from Somalia and have not sent our troops back into any African conflict.

Let us go back to the successful formula of 2001 when we orchestrated an Afghan coup to remove the Taliban. For that matter, it was the same way we got the Afghanis themselves to remove the Soviets and their puppet regime. No need to lead the charge, just provide the powder and shot.