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The Boston Globe

Nation

Obama’s moves on Syria mark defining moment

His shifts could set back agenda for second term

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. It was, after all, only after Secretary of State John F. Kerry made an offhand comment last Monday morning in London — and Russian leaders seized on it — that renewed diplomatic discussions began.

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