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Cameron to skeptical Brits: Syria is not Iraq

- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2013

Looking to assure the public that military action against Syria would be different from the nation's involvement in the Iraq war, British Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons that it is clear the situations are different because President Obama supports military action against Syria.

"The president of the United States, Barack Obama, is a man who opposed the action in Iraq," Mr. Cameron said. "No one could in any way can describe him as a president who wants to involve America in more wars in the Middle East, but he profoundly believes that an important red line has been crossed in an appalling way. That is why he supports action in this case."

The comments came Thursday as the House of Commons debated Britain's response to the suspected used of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government against his own people.

The ghost of the Iraq war has hovered over the debate of how the U.S. and the international community should get further involved in the ongoing civil war in Syria through some sort of military strike.

While Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron have asserted that the Assad government was behind the chemical weapons attack, others have likened the drum beat for military action to the Bush administration's assertion — which later turned out to be wrong — that Iraq President Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction in the lead up to the U.S.-led invasion.

Mr. Cameron said that it is "indisputable" that the "well of public opinion was poisoned by the Iraq episode" and said he is "deeply mindful of the lessons of previous conflicts and in particular the deep concerns in the country caused by what went wrong with the Iraq conflict in 2003."

"This is not like Iraq," Mr. Cameron said. "What we are seeing in Syria is fundamentally different. We are not invading a country. We are not searching for chemical or biological weapons."

Mr. Cameron's government has said international law allows a strike against Syria if there is convincing evidence of humanitarian distress, there is no alternative to military action, and the force is proportionate to the goal.

Mr. Cameron said Thursday the fact that Syria government has used chemical weapons is beyond doubt and the evidence that the Syrian regime has used these weapons on Aug. 21 is "right in front of our eyes."

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