The Wall Street Journal Asia (link for subscribers only) salutes Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer for doing something few politicians ever do: speaking the truth plainly and directly. Downer told a talk show in Australia that the Aussies would not pull their troops from Iraq just because a group threatened to murder a captured Aussie. In doing so, Downer said that Spain and the Philippines had empowered the terrorists and put coalition members still in Iraq at risk. Better yet, after the Spaniards and Filipinos complained, Downer said "government isn't about always easy decisions or being a marshmallow."
The US should be saluting Downer and the Aussies, and certainly not undercut his sentiments, as the State Department seemed to do. Diplomats try to hard to keep the tenuous friends of the US happy because they know that the stalwart ones can take mild diplomatic insults. The real question is why our diplomats try so hard to coddle the weak allies -- we should be steadfastly supporting our strong ones.