American anchor Brian Williams sparked an immediate backlash for describing US warships launching missiles into Syria as “beautiful”.
Brian Williams, a host on network MSNBC, even evoked a song by Leonard Cohen to hail the “fearsome armaments”.
Launching into the bizarre monologue on Thursday, Williams talked about the beauty of weapons used in retaliation to a chemical attack in Syria, in which at least 70 people were killed.
“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two US Navy vessels in the Easter Mediterranean,” Williams said.
He spoke over VT of warheads being launched at the Al Shayrat airbase in Syria. A total of 59 missiles were used in last night’s assault on the Syrian army stronghold.
Williams then proceeded to lift a line from Cohen’s 1998 hit ‘First We Take Manhattan’.
I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: 'I am guided by the beauty of our weapons'"
He continued: “And they are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making, what is for them, a brief flight over to this airfield.”
A pundit he was quizzing on the show, Malcolm Nance, who is as a US intelligence expert, shot back disdainfully: “Not beautiful for the victims, Brian.”
But the damage had already been done, and Williams sparked a fierce backlash.
America’s airfield bombing has already had serious repercussions for its diplomatic relations with Moscow.
Russian officials said the intervention had struck “a significant blow” to relations between their two countries - “which were already in a sorry state”.
It labelled the strikes “an aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law”.
But action from the US is still likely to escalate. Yesterday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there was “no doubt” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind the chemical attack on his own people.
When asked if he supported efforts to remove Assad from power, Tillerson said: “Those steps are underway”.
In the UK, Downing Street has thrown its weight behind Trump, and called his strike an “appropriate response”.
A spokesperson said: “The UK Government fully supports the US action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.”