The only mitigating factor here is that the aide is contradicting the head of state, not the head of the Polish government. So there may be a retreat on this. If not… well.

Obama denies Poland missile vow

US President-elect Barack Obama has not given a commitment to go ahead with plans to build part of a US missile defence system in Poland, an aide says.

He was speaking after Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s office said a pledge had been made during a phone conversation between the two men.

But Mr Obama’s foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough, denied this. More via the AFP:

The statement by President Kaczynski appeared to put a different spin on the conversation between the two men.

“Barack Obama has underlined the importance of the strategic partnership between Poland and the United States, he expressed his hope of continuing the political and military cooperation between our two countries,” the statement read.

“He also said the anti-missile shield project would go ahead,” said a statement said.

Warsaw and Washington signed a deal on August 14 to base part of a US missile shield in Poland, despite Moscow’s opposition and mounting East-West tensions over Georgia.

The United States wants to base 10 interceptor missiles in Poland plus a radar facility in the neighboring Czech Republic by 2011-2013 to complete a system already in place in the United States, Greenland and Britain.

Washington says the shield — endorsed by NATO in February — is aimed at fending off potential attacks by so-called “rogue states” such as Iran, and is in no way aimed at Russia.

Bolding mine: please note Denis McDonough’s statement in that context.

“President Kaczynski raised missile defense, but President-elect Obama made no commitment on it,” Denis McDonough told Reuters.

“His position is as it was throughout the campaign — that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable,” the adviser added.

Needless to say, this is all because of Russia’s decision to note the election of Senator Obama Tuesday by declaring its intent to deploy short-range missiles near Poland (over the objections of both the EU and NATO). What is not clear yet is whether this statement by McDonough represents future American foreign policy, or just a unfortunate lack of communication between the President-elect and his foreign policy spokesmen. I suggest that it turn out to be the latter; our allies need to know that we can be relied upon to fulfill our obligations, even when our government changes hands.

They can rely on us to fulfill our obligations, yes, Mr. President-elect?