For British and French Leaders, Political Battle Shifts to Home Ground After Syria Strikes

The leaders of France and Britain used phrases such as “red line” and “horrific suffering” on Saturday to defend their decisions to join the U.S.-led strike against Syria for its suspected chemical attack.

France and Britain on Saturday stressed that their military response was limited, successful and not designed to topple the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The goal at home, meanwhile, was to soften the political fallout amid questions and clamor over taking part in the military action led by President Trump.

The moves by British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron are unlikely to pose direct threats to the stability of their respective governments. But Saturday’s blowback over the allies’ coordinated attacks in Syria is playing differently in Europe than America.

In Britain, it was an open question: How much did the public support May’s decision to bomb Syrian targets? Many in Britain are still upset over former prime minister Tony Blair’s decision to join George W. Bush in the Iraq War, claiming the country was misled and that the results were disastrous.

In France, Macron has a similar uphill climb to win over a public highly cautious about getting too involved in another Middle East crisis as the memory of a Libyan operation in 2011 still looms large. French forces, along with NATO allies, toppled the regime of the late dictator Moammar Gaddafi but ultimately entered a conflict that dragged on for months longer than…

Read more