Washington is positively giddy at the prospect of engaging Taliban leaders in Qatar to work out some sort of peace deal for Afghanistan.
Afghan leader Hamid Karzai doesn't want any part of it and says he's of half a mind to tell the Americans to clear out entirely next year.
So, if the Talibs want to take peace and the Americans want to talk peace, what crawled up Hamid's backside and died? Well this is the 40th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords. Maybe that's what is on Hamid's mind.
40-years ago Washington was looking to bail out of another failed foreign war, the war in Vietnam. Everyone, especially the North Vietnamese, knew Washington wanted out and just needed a pretext to let them claim "peace with honour" and di di mau. And so they inked a deal that was to grease the wheels for an American withdrawal based on peace between the North and South.
The Americans promised Saigon that if Hanoi pulled anything, U.S. forces would be back in a heartbeat to kick ass. Only when precisely that did happen and the North began rolling up the South Vietnamese army like a cheap carpet the Americans let the place fall.
That's what happens with unpopular wars. Once you get them damped down, the folks at home are in no mood for a sequel. Hamid knows there's a very good - make that an excellent - chance that Afghanistan will go the way of South Vietnam and for him, personally, that could mean dancing at the end of a very short rope from an elevated tank barrel.
Karzai doesn't have many options and zero good options. He either rolls over for the Americans and let's them sell him out to the Talibs for a bucket of face-saving empty promises or he stands up to the Americans and takes the same consequences in the aftermath of the withdrawal of Western forces next year. Maybe he can cut a better deal with the Chinese.