The stunning parliamentary defeat on Thursday for Prime Minister David Cameron that led him to rule out British military participation in any strike on Syria reflected British fears of rushing to act against Damascus without certain evidence. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/31/world/middleeast/syria.html?pagewanted=2&hp British legislators rejected a motion urging an international response to the chemical weapons attack by a vote of 285 to 272, reflecting concerns that there was insufficient evidence that the Aug. 21 attack in the eastern suburbs of Damascus had been carried out by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Lawmakers were also worried about the strategy behind the call for limited strikes, which they feared could cause an escalation of the conflict and strengthen opposition forces aligned with Al Qaeda.
The Obama administration is nonetheless moving ahead, despite doubts in Congress and among the American public. Pentagon officials said Thursday that the Navy has moved five destroyers, each equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles, into the eastern Mediterranean Sea to prepare for a possible strike.
“That won’t be happening because the British Parliament, reflecting the great skepticism of the British people about any involvement in the Middle East,” Mr. Cameron said, “and I understand that, that part of it won’t be going ahead.”
Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States would survive. “The relationship with the United States is a very old one, very deep and operates on many layers.” he continued
Mr. Obama has no hope of obtaining a mandate for a military strike in the United Nations Security Council. Russia, Syria’s longtime backer, has long opposed military intervention of any sort, and China, which has called for the full results of an investigation by United Nations inspectors before any decision is made, has continued to push for more diplomacy.