If President Obama orders a military strike against Syria in the next few days, America will almost certainly be forced to act in isolation. The battle to secure a broad international coalition has collapsed in disarray as a swath of regular allies sought postponements or rejected the idea of firing missiles toward Damascus.

The drumbeats of war appeared to be strengthening in Washington, but recent partners from conflicts in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan have been backing away from direct involvement in the proposed military action against President Bashar al-Assad.

Italian politicians said their military bases, which were used for international assaults on Libya and Kosovo, would be off-limits for any strike unless the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution in support of an intervention. Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands urged caution, while British Prime Minister David Cameron, one of the loudest advocates of military action, was resoundingly overruled by a skeptical Parliament.

Obama’s best chance for assistance in the short term comes from Paris, where the socialist president, François Hollande, has been suggesting that France was “ready to punish” the Syrian regime. The French military confirmed it was prepared for action, but even Hollande was beginning to sound cautious on Thursday, arguing that “everything must be done for a political solution.”

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