Obama takes the fight to ... his hawkish critics

It’s understandable the president would defend his policy and lose patience with those who think it’s failing. But Obama’s version of recent history is misleading. He should be thanking many of his critics. In the last few weeks, he has begun to escalate the war against the Islamic State by finally doing many of the things his opponents have been recommending for months.

Last month, he deployed more special operations forces to Syria. He appears to have relaxed the restrictive rules for air strikes. The U.S. confirmed Monday that it had hit a fleet of trucks the Islamic State used for smuggling oil inside Syria. And Obama has reached out more directly to Syrian Kurdish fighters and some of their Arab allies.

This is all commendable. Yet the president, wary of becoming mired in the Syrian civil war and escalating the conflict in Iraq, had rebuffed all of these policies for nearly a year. And it’s far from clear he is committed to doing much more even in the aftermath of the Paris attack…

Obama’s answer, in emphasizing the input of his team of experts, gives the impression that he is following the lead of the professionals. In reality, Obama has overruled his top advisers many times in his presidency when it came to war in the Middle East. Let’s start with the no-fly zone.

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