08/22/2014 12:50 am ET Updated Aug 22, 2014

David Ignatius: Obama's Policy On The Islamic State 'Has Been Correct'

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius came to the defense of President Barack Obama's approach to Islamic State militants in an opinion piece published online Thursday, a stark contrast to his harsh criticism earlier this summer.

The piece comes after Obama on Wednesday promised the United States will be "relentless" in its efforts to target the militant group. Islamic State released a video Tuesday showing the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley.

“People like this ultimately fail,” Obama said of the group. “They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy.”

Ignatius agreed with Obama's characterization of the group, writing that the videotaped beheading "was a sign of the Islamic State’s weakness, not its strength."

For months, Obama has been struggling with how to get it right this time -- how to contain and eradicate the Islamic State without making the United States the Muslim world’s enemy. Obama’s voice could have been clearer and more emphatic, early on, but I think the basic course of his policy has been correct. He has moved strategically, step by step, gathering the tools that will be needed to confront this malignancy.

Ignatius went on to commend the president for recognizing the importance of placing leadership in the hands of Iraqis through an inclusive government, for acting to help Iraqis reclaim the Mosul dam, and for attempting to free U.S. journalists that were being held hostage through tactical operations, not millions in ransom.

"Those were difficult but sound decisions, and a principled start to a long campaign against brutal killers," he wrote.

Ignatius, hardly the Obama apologist, appears to have made an about face. Earlier this summer, he appeared on MSNBC to reiterate opinions in Dan Henninger’s Wall Street Journal piece, “While Obama Fiddles,” criticizing the Obama administration's foreign policy decisions.

“Now, 18 months later, we have a serious problem," Ignatius said. "These countries are just ripping apart. And I think the administration is going to have to step up and have a coherent counterterrorism policy, or it’s only going to get worse.”



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