We wish we were more surprised by the news this morning that the Obama Administration sent a secret letter to the Kremlin offering to turn tail on U.S. missile defense commitments to Eastern Europe in exchange for Russian help stopping Iran from developing long-range weapons. But former assistant secretary of state and Heritage vice president Kim Holmes saw this coming:

A Turkish general once said: “The problem with having the Americans as your allies is you never know when they´ll turn around and stab themselves in the back.”

On the issue of ballistic missile defense, the Obama administration may be on the verge of knifing not only ourselves, but two loyal European allies as well.

Ten months ago, the United States and NATO solemnly promised Poland and the Czech Republic to deploy missile defense systems on their territory. Warsaw and Prague agreed to the deployment as a means to protect themselves from the emerging nuclear threat posed by Iran.

Of course, the decision made by our Eastern European allies encompassed more than just the desire to defend their citizens against Iran. The Poles and Czechs saw it as a test case of the American and NATO commitment to their defense against a bullying Russia.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that the U.S. will now “reconsider” the decision to proceed with building the missile sites. The administration wants to link the fulfillment of a commitment already made to Poland and the Czech Republic to future Russian cooperation on Iran.

This would be a huge blunder. Not only would it signal to Warsaw and Prague that a done deal in NATO is being reopened, with the understandable conclusion that the U.S. is selling two allies down the river to Moscow. It also would commit a classic negotiating mistake.

Read the whole op-ed here.