Some of our allies have expressed public displeasure with President Bush's depiction of Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil."

They say they're shocked — shocked — that a president would speak so coarsely. There's a presumption in diplomatic circles that a prim lie is always preferable to an unvarnished truth. 

Now, while it makes sense to compliment a princess who arrives at a reception arrayed in an outfit that would make a circus clown howl, times of conflict and war demand plain-spoken truth. 

Ronald Reagan offended the foreign policy establishment when he called the Soviet Union the evil empire, but he was right. And his defiance made it clear that he meant business. Within five years, the Soviet Union was history. 

So here we go again. A president has used the stark descriptive term "evil" to describe states that export murder and target innocents. If this offends tender ears, tough. Better to ruffle a few feathers than to give terrorists the impression that we don't mean to complete and win this fight.