Right at the start of his meeting with history, he made The Speech in Cairo. A great speech. An uplifting speech. An edifying speech.
He talked to the educated youth of the Egyptian capital. He spoke about the virtues of democracy, the bright future awaiting a liberal, moderate Muslim world.
Hosni Mubarak was not invited. The hint was that he was an obstacle to the bright new world.
Perhaps the hint was taken. Perhaps the speech sowed the seed of the Arab spring.
Probably Obama was not aware of the possibility that democracy, virtuous democracy, would lead to Islamist rule. He tried to reach out tentatively, tenderly, to the Muslim Brothers after they won the election. But probably at the same time, the CIA was already plotting the military takeover.
So now we are exactly where we were the day before The Speech: ruthless military dictatorship.
NOW WE have a similar problem in Syria.
The Arab Spring begat a civil war. More than a hundred thousand people have been killed already, and the number grows with every passing day.
The world stood by, looking on passively. For Jews, it was a reminder of the holocaust, when, according to the lesson every boy and girl learns at school here, "the world looked on and kept silent."
Until a few days ago. Something has happened. A red line has been crossed. Poison gas has been used. Civilized mankind demands action. From whom? From the President of the United States, of course.
SOME TIME ago Obama made a speech, another one of Those Speeches, in which he drew a red line: no arms of mass destruction, no poison gas.
Now it seems that this red line has been crossed. Poison gas has been employed.
Who would do such a terrible thing? That bloody tyrant, of course. Bashar al-Assad. Who else?
American public opinion, indeed public opinion throughout the West, demanded action. Obama has spoken, so Obama must act. Otherwise he would confirm the image he has in many places. The image of a wimp, a weakling, a coward, a talker who is not a doer.