President Obama’s secret offer to Russia on scrapping an Eastern European missile defense shield is a debacle. Obama sent a letter to Dmitri Mevedev last month suggesting the U.S. would abandon its plan to deploy a missile intercept system in Poland and the Czech Republic if Moscow got Iran to halt its nuclear program. The worst part of the offer is not that the U.S. president was willing to turn his back on our Eastern European allies (that’s just a dangerous and depressing long-term side-effect); it’s that the offer was flatly rejected by Moscow. This is called diplomatic failure. The New York Times buries the lede five paragraphs in:
When asked about the letter on Tuesday, according to the Interfax news service, Mr. Medvedev said that the Kremlin had ruled out the notion of a deal in which the United States would shelve its planned missile defense system in exchange for Russia’s help with preventing Iran from developing weapons.
“No one links these issues to any exchange, especially on the Iran issue,” Mr. Medvedev said at a news conference in Madrid, where he was visiting to boost economic and political ties. “We are working very closely with our U.S. colleagues on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.”
Barack Obama is turning into a bizarro Don Corleone: He makes offers you can’t not refuse. Here are the fruits of “smart power” so far: Iran responds to President Obama’s “extended hand” by demanding apologies for a litany of American crimes; China has been given an American green-light to ramp up undisguised human rights abuses; the Russian president brushed off Obama’s appeal for help like so much dandruff; and Eastern Europe, where George W. Bush had successfully built up a spate of American allies, has been cut loose.
Next stop on the Smart Power ’09 Tour: Syria, where the Assad regime is undoubtedly astounded by its own good fortune.