The United States reserves the option to go it alone on a possible military strike against Syria, the White House signaled late Thursday, after Britain’s parliament rejected going to war.
“As we’ve said, President 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 in a statement. “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.”
The statement came after Britain’s Parliament dealt Prime Minister David Cameron a stinging defeat, beating back a measure that could have set the stage for London to join Washington in military action against Syria.
"It is very clear tonight that while the House has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action,” Cameron said. “I get that, and the government will act accordingly."
With Cameron seemingly chastened and certainly humiliated by the 272-285 vote, Labour leader Ed Miliband asked whether the prime minister would pledge not to ignore the results and go ahead with military action.
"I can give that assurance,” Cameron replied. “I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons, but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons.”
Hayden said the White House was aware of the “result” of the vote and vowed that Washington will continue to “consult” with London “one of our closest allies and friends.”
France has signaled support for a tough response against Syria over the alleged massacre of civilians last week with chemical weapons — but favors waiting until after U.N. inspectors who scoured the Damascus suburb where the slaughter took place return and deliver their findings.
Significant international statements on Syria in the last 24 hours: