Yes, President Obama came to national prominence on an anti-war platform, or, more specifically, as an opponent of what he saw as a "dumb" war in Iraq. But that was then. Now he "must go from being the president who was elected to end wars—his most treasured self-image—to the president who finally leads one effectively," writes Michael Hirsh at Politico Magazine. Obama has no choice, argues Hirsh, who quotes former State Department official Nicholas Burns as saying it's "almost Shakespearian" that the president now must order military action in the same regions where he once so strongly opposed it.
The fast rise of the Islamic State has forced Obama's hand in Iraq and Syria. Up until now, Obama "has been mainly about avoiding the legacy of George W. Bush and assiduously building up the image of a president who, more than anything, wished to ultimately live up to one of the most prematurely awarded Nobel peace prizes of all time," writes Hirsh. That is no longer possible. This isn't about cleaning up Bush's old wars, this is a "wholly new war, Obama's very own." The world needs him to lead it, and if he does it well, he might not only defeat ISIS but revive his own presidency. The trick is that he needs to become a "brand-new president." Click to read Hirsh's full column.