In sum, reduced military capacity, public opposition, the widening of decision making to the legislature and the emphasis on international law and high standards of evidence have all combined to stop Britain intervening in Syria. If these processes continue and harden, then it is difficult to see the UK being able to act out the great power role of ‘global policeman’ in the future.
Not everyone sees this change as fundamental. Boris Johnson has emphasised “the continuing cultural, political, commercial and intellectual influence of this country” and even gamely tried to portray Obama putting the use of force to the vote in Congress as a “victory” for Cameron. Daniel Hannan sees the UK as standing “taller in the world” because it has showed some independence from the United States. It is also, after all, only two years since the Libya operation. Nevertheless, the UK has taken a big step in removing itself from its recent role as interventionist power and reliable ally of the United States. It may find it rather prefers to inhabit the alternative role it now finds itself in, as a less bellicose and more introverted country.