ALIENATING ALLIES…. U.S. officials are intent on improving our diplomatic ties with nations around the world, including allies. Some friends of the previous administration aren’t helping.

Greg Gutfeld, host of the Fox News programme Red Eye, has apologised to Canada for comments that were made about the country’s military during a show on 17 March.

On one segment of the show, a panel talked about Canadian lieutenant general Andrew Leslie’s assertion that the military would need a one-year break from fighting in Afghanistan after Canada’s commitment ends in 2011.

Gutfield laughed at Leslie’s suggestion saying: “The Canadian military wants to take a breather to do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white capri pants.” “Isn’t this the perfect time to invade this ridiculous country? They have no army,” he added.

Gutfield’s “joke” came the same week as Canada honored four more Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. A total of 116 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the war began — more than any other U.S. ally.*

Canada’s defense minister demanded the Fox News personality apologize. Yesterday, Gutfeld, through a Fox News publicist, said his comments “may have been misunderstood” and that he didn’t intend to disrespect “the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military”.

“May have been misunderstood”?

* U.K. has seen 152 fatalities in Afghanistan.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.