Tue August 27, 2013
Britain Would Join U.S. In Any Military Action In Syria
Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 6:31 pm
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
If the United States takes military action against Syria, it will not act alone. Its allies will certainly play a role, including Britain. NPR's Philip Reeves says the British government has already launched an offensive to win public support for military intervention.
PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: U.N. inspectors in Syria have yet to deliver their conclusions. But Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, seems pretty sure he already knows who's to blame for last week's attack that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians.
PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON: What we've seen in Syria are appalling scenes of death and suffering because of the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. And I don't believe we can let that stand.
REEVES: Cameron cut short his seaside summer vacation today, to hit the TV studios and make the case for intervention. At his request, Britain's parliament is being recalled early. After Iraq and Afghanistan, many parliamentarians are very wary of being drawn into complex Middle East conflicts. They'll debate the issue Thursday and also vote, though we don't yet know the motion.
That vote is not binding, yet Cameron is eager to win parliament's support. He's working hard to win over those who question the wisdom of getting involved, and the legality of military intervention without a mandate from the U.N. Security Council.
CAMERON: Now, of course, any action we take or others take would have to be legal; it would have to be proportionate; it would have to be specifically to deter and degrade the future use of chemical weapons.
REEVES: Tomorrow, Cameron will discuss strategy with military and intelligence chiefs at a meeting of the U.K.'s National Security Council. He won't do anything without Washington's agreement. Cameron says nothing's actually been decided, yet according to his officials, Britain's armed forces are already working on plans.
Objections and denials from Russia, Iran and Syria itself aren't carrying much weight in London, where some sort of military strike against Damascus looks more and more likely.
Philip Reeves, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.