Today's Taliban are carbon copies of 1500 BCE jews.
Yet that may be where negotiations are heading. In December, President Obama set a July 2011 deadline for the beginning of a drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. That has made Taliban leaders feel they have the upper hand. In negotiations, the Taliban will be advocating a version of an Afghan state in line with their own conservative views, particularly on the issue of women's rights, which they deem a Western concept that contravenes Islamic teaching. Already there is a growing acceptance that some concessions to the Taliban are inevitable if there is to be genuine reconciliation. "You have to be realistic," says a senior Western diplomat in Kabul, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We are not going to be sending troops and spending money forever. There will have to be a compromise, and sacrifices will have to be made." Which sounds understandable. But who, precisely, will be asked to make the sacrifice? (Watch TIME's video "Portraits of the Women of Afghanistan.")
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