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President Obama’s moves on Syria mark defining moment for White House with uphill agenda

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WASHINGTON — President Obama, to his supporters, is a deliberative leader whose willingness to recalibrate his response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons potentially helped avert military strikes and further US involvement in a civil war half a world away.

But to his critics, Obama is like a character in a Shakespearean comedy, where the hapless protagonist succeeds despite himself.

The question is whether this marks a turning point in Obama’s presidency that does irreparable harm to both his domestic agenda and his international goals, or whether he can salvage a diplomatic victory and reinvigorate what was already an agenda in trouble. Either way, it is a moment that could define Obama’s second term.

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