Two years ago tomorrow, President Barack Obama delivered a rare address to the American people in prime time. It had been over one year since he had drawn his “red line” for action in Syria, and the last month of headlines were dominated by the news that it was being flagrantly and systematically violated. Chemical weapons were being deliberately dropped on civilians and rebel targets in Syria; the horrible images that emerged from that scene of death and the terrible precedent that was being set finally compelled Obama to action. His administration spent the preceding weeks feebly drumming up support both at home and abroad for intervention, but it was clear that there was no appetite for another war – even one as noble as that which Bashar al-Assad invited. Rather than make the case for American leadership that night, President Barack Obama took an off-ramp. He opted for a way out of his obligation to enforce international norms and his own self-imposed imperatives. It was a shortsighted approach to a crisis, and only serviced Obama’s own narrow, parochial political interests. Today, the fruits of that ill-conceived policy are more grave than anyone could have imagined.