But in many ways, President Obama’s earlier decision not to use military force against the regime of Syria’s Bashar Assad and to embrace a deal advanced by Russia to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons was seen at the time as almost historic. The White House rejecting pressures from both the members of the foreign policy establishment, not to mention the McCain Republicans, as well as from allies abroad, including the Europeans, the Saudis, and the Israelis, to deploy U.S. military power—while enjoying the support of most Americans for the decision.

But that was then. As Americans (or some of them) are preparing to cast their ballots in the midterm elections, one of the most intriguing findings observed by pollsters has been that the reason why many voters would support Republicans candidates on Election Day was that the perception that President Obama was “weak” on foreign policy and that the GOP would prove to be more effective in responding to foreign threats, including the forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a more assertive foreign policy being pursued by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and even the Ebola epidemic.

The conventional wisdom has been that the images of the beheading of two American journalists by an ISIS executioner as well as those of the numerous atrocities committed by the group may have brought about the dramatic changes in public attitudes.