If I had to list the three most important objectives for U.S. foreign policy in the short-to-medium run, my list would be:
1. Pakistan: Helping Zardari beat the ISI, the military, and the jihadists.
2. Iran: Helping reform-minded forces gain power, even if it’s not possible to defeat Ahmadi-nejad in the upcoming elections.
3. Russia: Helping Medvedev against Putin. (Medvedev may be no great prize, but he never served in the KGB.)
In deciding what to say and do about Pakistan, Iran, and Russia, a central consideration ought to be helping those less hostile to us (and less inclined to be tyrannical at home and aggressive abroad) make progress as against our committed enemies.
Note that the story broke first, not in the New York Times (which would have suggested a leak from somewhere in Washington) but in Kommersant, which suggests that someone in Russia thought it might be useful to have news of the letter get out.
Who in Russia? Generally speaking, Kommersant reflects the views of the market economist/technocrat faction now coalescing around Medvedev as against those of the security goons and kleptocrats who constitute Putin’s power base. That suggests that Medvedev wanted it to be known that he and his American counterpart are pen pals, and that the Americans are making nice.
If that’s what’s happening, I’m all for it.