In one of those odd twists that history often provides, Britain which was the United States’ strongest supporter in the 2002 invasion of Iraq has refused to back U.S. military action against Syria. But France, which was scorned by many Americans for its opposition to the war in Iraq, now says it is ready to join the U.S. in a strike against Syria.
After the British Parliament voted 285-272 against backing a prospective U.S. action against Syria, the White House said that President Barack Obama was prepared to order unilateral U.S. action if necessary.
“President Obama’s decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States," National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said.
The vote was a defeat for British Prime Minister David Cameron, a strong supporter of strikes against Syria, which stands accused of using chemical weapons against its own population in its attempts to quash a violent rebellion against the government there.
But on Friday morning French President Francois Hollande said that his country stands ready to take action against the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“There are few countries that have the capacity to inflict a sanction by the appropriate means. France is one of them,” Hollande (pictured) said today. “We are ready. We will decide our position in close liaison with our allies.”
Though Syrian officials deny that the government has used chemical weapons to kill rebels and other civilians, Hollande believes that the chemical attacks are an “established fact.”
"The chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished," the French President said. Like the American president, France’s chief executive is commander-in-chief of his country’s military. The British prime minister holds no such position.
The French National Assembly is scheduled to meet next Wednesday to debate the Syria matter, but Hollande said there is a possibility that he will have already ordered French forces into action by then.
SOURCES: Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Washington Post