FOREIGN NEWS: British Parliament votes against possible military action in Syria
The British Parliament Thursday rejected a proposal for military action in Syria — while the Obama administration said it would make its own decision on a possible strike.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron indicated he won’t proceed without parliamentary approval, saying the government “will act accordingly.”
“I strongly believe in the need for a tough response in the use of chemical weapons but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons,” he said in the aftermath of his defeat.
Thursday vote was nonbinding, but Cameron’s loss on even a symbolic vote likely means there will be no second-round vote next week.
The White House believes the evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its citizens is clear cut. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.
Facing not only the pushback from Britain but also a growing hesitation in Congress, the Obama administration insisted Thursday that any attack on Syria would be limited — and flatly rejected comparisons to the Iraq war, where supposed weapons of mass destruction were never found.
“President (Barack) Obama’s decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said following the UK vote. “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.”
At a news conference in Manila, Philippines, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, “The British have been very strong in condemning the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, and that vote in the Parliament doesn’t change that. That is a very significant position for any nation to take publicly. We’ll continue to work with Britain and consult with Britain as we are with all our allies.”
Hagel added: “It is the goal of President Obama and our government to whatever decision is taken that it be an international collaboration and effort. … Our approach is to continue to find an international coalition that will act together.”
Amid mounting skepticism from lawmakers who question the prudence of U.S. involvement in Syria’s protracted civil war, administration brass offered House and Senate leaders and committee chairmen and ranking members their latest assessment of the situation in Syria Thursday night.
A State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said Iraq and Syria were “in no way analogous.”
Obama has said he has not decided on a military strike against Syria, which would probably come with cruise missile strikes form the Mediterranean Sea. But Harf made clear that the administration would decide its course.
“We make our own decisions and our own timeline,” she said.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a briefing Thursday, “When the president reaches a determination about the appropriate response … and a legal justification is required to substantiate or to back up that decision, we’ll produce one on our own.”