General Lord Dannatt described the Commons vote on Syria as a "victory for common sense".
The former head of the British Army told the BBC the "drumbeat for war" had dwindled among the British public in recent days.
He said: "What has happened today has been a victory for common sense and for democracy, and the will of the people has been expressed through the House of Commons that we don't want to get involved in this - that's the right answer at this precise moment.
"President Obama may well take note of what's happened in Westminster tonight and think again.
"I certainly hopes he thinks again because I'm absolutely convinced the use of explosive ordinance into Damascus at the present moment will make the situation in that very difficult Syrian civil war worse, not better."
International Development Secretary Justine Greening claimed she missed the crucial vote on Syria because she did not hear the division bell
Britain's place in the world changed with last night's Commons vote on Syria, as David Cameron spectacularly misread his own party.
It was clear the majority of MPs would not be prepared to back unilateral action by the US and Britain. Today we need to make clear why.