Australia has become embroiled in a major diplomatic crisis after the foreign minister, Lord Downer of Baghdad, attacked the governments of Spain and the Philippines for what he described as treachery and cowardice in the war on terrorism.
Commenting on the decision by both countries to withdraw their troops from Iraq, Lord Downer said they had left the way open for Islamic terrorist groups to kill and maim Australians.
'If a bomb goes off in our country it will be Madrid and Manila we can blame,' he said.
'Frankly, the Spaniards have never been worth a pot of burnt paella since Sir Francis Drake sent the Armada packing in 1588. The only time they were a halfway decent lot was when General Franco got them by the scruff of the neck, but sadly that didn't last.'
Employing unusually blunt language, the Foreign Minister was equally critical of the Philippines Government of President Gloria Arroyo, claiming that her unprincipled refusal to allow a Filipino hostage to be beheaded by insurgents in Iraq was 'disappointing, and a grave and dangerous setback to hopes of world peace'.
'What is the life of one truck driver against the imminent victory of the coalition in Iraq?' he asked.
'I don't have to point out to you that there are a lot of people in the Philippines with Spanish-sounding names,' he added. 'I'm afraid that is more than a coincidence.'
Lord Downer said if it came to a choice between an Australian being executed in Iraq or 'cutting and running', then the decision was clear.
'We may lose heads, but we will not lose face with our good friends in Washington,' he said.
It's more than faintly weird that His Lordship seems to feel that the Spanish and Philippine governments should pay more attention to him than to the Spanish and Philippine peoples. Maybe if he worked a little harder at developing a sense of proportion. On a more serious note, go read The Terror Web for what actually happened in Spain.