LONDON - The British government is preparing the ground to join the United States in launching air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq, but is moving cautiously to ensure it avoids a parliamentary defeat and acts as part of a regional coalition.
Britain was quick to join US military action in Afghanistan and Iraq a decade ago. But a war-weary public and parliament's rejection last year of air strikes on Syria have made Prime Minister David Cameron wary.
He has also had to prioritize Scotland's independence vote on Thursday over possible action.
This time, people with direct knowledge of the government's thinking say the plan is to move slowly, to woo parliament, and to only take a final decision to join air strikes once an international coalition has been formed and the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities are onboard.
"Sometimes you deliver a bigger punch, and you deliver a more fatal blow against ISIL (IS) by getting all the components right before you do so," Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in Cameron's coalition, said on Wednesday.