I have no idea what to make of this story:
President Obama sent a secret letter to Russia’s president last month suggesting that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons, American officials said Monday.
The letter to President Dmitri A. Medvedev was hand-delivered in Moscow by top administration officials three weeks ago. It said the United States would not need to proceed with the interceptor system, which has been vehemently opposed by Russia since it was proposed by the Bush administration, if Iran halted any efforts to build nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles.
The officials who described the contents of the message requested anonymity because it has not been made public. While they said it did not offer a direct quid pro quo, the letter was intended to give Moscow an incentive to join the United States in a common front against Iran. Russia’s military, diplomatic and commercial ties to Tehran give it some influence there, but it has often resisted Washington’s hard line against Iran.
“It’s almost saying to them, put up or shut up,” said a senior administration official. “It’s not that the Russians get to say, ‘We’ll try and therefore you have to suspend.’ It says the threat has to go away.”
On Tuesday, a press secretary for Dmitri A. Medvedev told the Interfax news agency that the letter did not contain any “specific proposals or mutually binding initiatives.”
There are so many layers of questions to this, including who leaked it and why, whether or not they were hoping to get Russia to help or just boxing them in, whether or not this was really a message to Iran, etc. The only thing we know is that news of the letter is out there, so it was to someone’s advantage to leak this to the public.
*** Update **
On the other hand, it seems though the Obama administration can’t lose. If the Russians say no, then Obama’s hand is strengthened in both Western and Eastern Europe, and Russia loses some leverage in trying to get missile defense out of their backyard.
I could get used to these “win/win” scenarios the Obama team keeps rolling out. See also, Rush Limbaugh fallout.