Barack Obama’s plan for military intervention in Syria was abruptly derailed by David Cameron and British members of parliament, US secretary of state John Kerry claimed on Thursday.
The American president said he would bomb the Syrian regime if it used chemical weapons but he did not follow through on his promise. The failure to enforce his stated “red line” after President Bashar al-Assad used sarin gas in a Damascus suburb in August 2013 is seen by someas the worst stain on Obama’s legacy.
The British parliament’s vote against air strikeshas long been cited by Obama and others as a causal factor but Kerry made the link explicit just a week after a diplomatic spat with the United Kingdom’s prime minister, Theresa May, over a #United Nations resolution that condemned Israel.
Asked by reporters at a farewell press conference in Washington if the “red line” episode was a nadir of the modern presidency, Kerry argued that the media had not properly analysed, assessed or reported exactly what took place.
“The president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, did decide to use force and he announced his decision publicly and he said we’re going to act, we’re going to do what we need to do to respond to this blatant violation of international law and of warnings and of the red line he had chosen,” he said.
“Now, we were marching towards that time when, lo and behold … Prime Minister #David Cameron went to the parliament … and he sought a vote for approval for him to join in the action that we were going to engage in. And guess what, the parliament voted no, they shot him down.”
MPs voted by 285-272 to rule out joining US-led strikes, triggering diplomatic shockwaves across the Atlantic.