The British parliament voted not to attack Syria over the alleged chemical attacks. France and Germany have decided not to act without the UN Security Council finishing its investigation. These countries were the first ones to raise the red flag against Syria, but now they are backing off.
But President Obama, who, unlike the British Prime Minister, is not taking the issue to the legislative body that is supposed to approve such action, is saying that the United States will act alone.
The White House signaled that the United States would act alone in Syria if necessary to protect its national security interests, as a Western coalition that just days ago appeared determined to launch a joint military action split wide open.
President Obama appeared increasingly isolated after British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote Thursday in the House of Commons on endorsing military action. It was a stunning defeat for a government that days ago called for punishing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces for alleged use of chemical weapons against rebel-held neighborhoods last week.
Britain “will not be involved” in any military strikes on Syria, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said after the vote. However, he added, “I don’t expect that the lack of British participation will stop any action.”
Obama administration officials made their case for armed intervention in a conference call with congressional leaders Thursday night.
“As we’ve said, President Obama’s decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States,” said Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council. “He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable.”
As the Pentagon moved a fifth destroyer armed with cruise missiles into the eastern Mediterranean for possible action against Syria, other major allies also appeared to pull back.
French President Francois Hollande, whose government was the first Western advocate for a military response, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also had offered support, called for delaying any military operation until the United Nations Security Council can review evidence collected by chemical weapons experts now in Syria.