Tomorrow, the United States will begin formal negotiations with the Taliban.
According to The Washington Post, the purpose of the talks is to end attacks by insurgents on U.S. and government forces in Afghanistan. It also is supposed to pave the way for negotiations between the Taliban and the current Afghan government.
Interestingly, though, the Afghan government is not going to participate in the negotiations that start Thursday in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Officials assured the media that Afghani leader Hamid Karzai approves of the talks and he has not set any preconditions for joining the talks.
Until now, though, it has been the Taliban who have refused to talk to the Afghan government.
The Taliban, you will recall, ruled Afghanistan when 9/11 occurred and were known for - among other stellar qualities - being good buddies with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Today, their political base is in Pakistan.
They also, of course, brutalized their own women and would not allow girls to attend school. We share the concerns expressed by Laura Bush that in our haste to get out of the country we may be sentencing the females of the country to a return to a life of second-class citizenship that borders on slavery.
Frankly, it is hard to see a return of the Taliban in Afghanistan that won't also result in a return to repression. They certainly have not renounced their old views about women and they are the prime sponsors of the attacks by insurgents that have killed and maimed so many of our soldiers.
If the old Taliban returns, we will have played a cruel trick on the girls and women of Afghanistan. We dangled freedom in front of them and then walked away as they were returned to their servitude.
That would be a horrible legacy for the United States' efforts in Afghanistan.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.