Thursday, January 25, 2007

Don't remember the dead

Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has surely strayed well beyond his mandate with this comment, as reported in a loony column by Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal, a column predicated on the idea that "defeat" is something that can assessed without reference to the fundamental conditions on the ground in Iraq --

Our slide to a national nervous breakdown because of Iraq is not going unnoticed. Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has been visiting across the U.S. this week. "I've been pretty worried about what I've heard," Mr. Downer said in an interview. Walking on Santa Monica beach Sunday before last, Mr. Downer said he encountered a display of crosses in the sand, representing the American dead in Iraq.

"What concerns me about this," he said, "is that it's sort of an isolationist sentiment, subconsciously, not consciously, and that would be an enormous problem for the world. I hope the American people understand the importance of not retreating and thinking the world's problems aren't theirs."

To state the obvious, what business is it of Downer to interpret a memorial to the dead in California as a sign of national weakness, especially coming as he does from a country whose reverence for its military dead is so well known?

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