That this article in The New York Times reflects a highly dangerous state of mind within the US as its Syrian policy unravels received stark confirmation in a US TV interview in which Michael Morell, a former deputy CIA director and supporter of Hillary Clinton, calmly proposed a covert programme to assassinate Iranian, Syrian and Russian officials. Moreover, as was the case with The New York Times article, Morell provided no half-ways rational reason for this appalling proposal, other than to make Iran, Syria and Russia pay “a big price” for their success in the war in Syria, and to frighten President Assad.
That such a demented proposal should be openly discussed on US television by such a senior former official of the CIA is nothing short of astonishing. What Morell is proposing – essentially a campaign of terrorism and mass murder – incidentally goes far beyond what Russia was accused of – and has been relentlessly criticised for – during the Litvinenko affair. That involved the killing of a single individual who was a former defector and a Russian citizen. It also goes beyond anything the US did during the Cold War.
Needless to say were such an insane policy ever to be put into effect it would increase international tensions to unheard of levels, endangering peace like nothing else. The idea that such a programme could be kept secret is nothing short of absurd. At some point some of the would-be assassins would be bound to be caught. What would happen then if or rather when the Russians or the Iranians made the details of their mission public? The alarm that would cause amongst the public in Europe – especially in Germany and in southern Europe – simply does not bear thinking about.
What this episode shows is the complete collapse of public morality in the US and the growing flight from reality there. A former deputy director of the CIA makes a mad proposal on national television for a murder programme straight out of the Jason Bourne films and yet instead of this provoking an outcry the media in the US continues to round on Donald Trump for proposing steps to strengthen peace, calling him a Kremlin agent.
One wonders how the media in the US would react if a former Russian intelligence official were to go on Russian television and suggest a programme to assassinate US and Israeli officials? Of course merely to ask the question is to know the answer.
It is now clear that the prospect of failure for the regime change strategy in Syria is driving part of the US establishment mad. In their anger they are thrashing out in the most reckless and dangerous ways. It is debatable whether since the end of the Second World War the threat to peace has ever been greater.