It was a younger Barack Obama who stood in the bitter cold in Springfield, Ill., to declare that the American military must butt out of "someone else's civil war" in the Middle East and drew applause when he said it was time to let the Iraqis know "that we will not be there forever." But that was 2007, and this is 2015.
Eight years to the day after Obama launched a campaign based on hope and change, his White House is lobbying Congress to pass a resolution authorizing the use of American military force in that still-raging civil war. Only this time, the military operations permitted by the AUMF will have targets in Syria as well as in Iraq.
With the administration beginning briefings on that new authorization Tuesday night in preparation for its expected submission Wednesday, perhaps nothing better captures the evolution of Obama's policies and the reality that the world always seems simpler to candidates than to presidents. In a headline that had to send shudders through Obama loyalists, National Public Radio on Tuesday linked Obama to his predecessor George W. Bush with this headline: "In White House Memory, A-U-M-F Translates to B-U-S-H."
Obama has been launching attacks on the Islamic State extremists based on an authorization requested by Bush and adopted just days after the Sept. 11 attacks—the same measure he has said should be repealed. A new one is needed, in part, because the Islamic State did not even exist at the time of 9/11, so technically it is not covered. Additionally, a new resolution would give the president more Republican buy-in to the current campaign.