U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed on Sunday that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is right — the U.S. and other NATO powers are indeed engaging in early peace talks with the Taliban. Gates called the discussions "very preliminary," and warned that the Taliban needs to concede military defeat before any serious deal is brokered. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) decried this new turn in America's nearly decade-old war as "a disaster." Is negotiating with the Taliban really America's best exit strategy?

Peace talks are the only solution: "The Taliban was never going to be beaten by military means alone," says The Australian in an editorial. So the nascent peace talks are "a potentially significant development at a critical time." The Taliban's new willingness to talk was likely triggered by the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden and "the annihilation of much of the leadership of both al Qaeda and the Taliban." But the group must renounce its cruel "medieval obscurantism," or no deal.
"A rare hint of optimism"

We can't trust the Taliban: Anybody who was alive during Richard Nixon's 1971 peace talks with North Vietnam "should be getting a sense of deja vu," says Rick Moran at American Thinker. Like Nixon, Obama is eager to reach an "honorable" peace before the next U.S. election. And like the North Vietnamese, the Taliban will undoubtedly invade as much territory as they can before any final deal is reached. Things are about to get ugly.
"Afghan peace talks: Vietnam redux"

Let's slow down and do this right: Over the long haul, these talks could prove fruitful, says Julian Borger at The Guardian. And "the level of comfort the Obama administration feels in talking about an eventual peace deal" is a significant milestone — though not a welcome one for all parties. Europeans are worried that team Obama is too eager to negotiate a "quick political fix." But if everybody keeps their heads, we have good reason for cautious optimism.
"Bonn conference could mark formal start of Afghan peace process"