Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, right, holds up the iconic photo of a young dead Syrian boy as he addresses the Syrian refugee crisis during a news conference on Capitol Hill in December. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Barack Obama’s relative inaction in the Middle East will shape — and, perhaps, taint — his legacy, an ironic twist to a presidency conceived in part by his own criticism of his predecessor's military overreach in the region.
The outgoing commander in chief opted against enforcing his own “red line” against Syrian President Bashar Assad. His decisions against a more robust effort to equip, train and help rebel forces, against using American ground troops, and against removing Assad from power are all part of a complicated mosaic that includes the birth of the Islamic State group, an again-unstable Iraq, and an ongoing refugee crisis that stretches to northern Europe.