He strode out. He spoke well and he "My Fellow Americans-ed" with the best of them. But this speech was one he never wanted to make.
Publicly at least, Barack Obama has been the anti-Iraq President. He campaigned on his opposition to the war and withdrew troops in 2011. He was none-too-enthused about sending any Americans back.
Obama might have been the anti-Iraq President back in 2008, but what if keeping out of Iraq and Syria means turning a blind eye to genocide?
What if it means ignoring the public beheadings of your own citizens? Obama had to do something. In his prime time speech he promised to "degrade and destroy" Isis, but he never defined greater victory.
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To degrade a particular group is one thing. But bombs and bullets won't ever destroy ideology. Al-Qaeda today might be struggling but ISIS and Boko Haram are not.
In five years, we might look back at Obama's plans as new organisations and new names offer new terrorist threats. It's like a giant game of whack-a-mole.
And although the US might feel obliged to tackle Isis with the old tools of war, the 13 years since 9/11 have taught us a holding pattern is about the best the old tools can achieve. You can suppress the symptoms but air strikes never address the root cause.
Obama didn't define victory because there is no immediate victory to be had. Without - as a species - addressing the many social factors that influence extremism the world over, we're stuck with more of the same.
There is no finish line. There is no absolute. There is no way to win.
Jack Tame is on Newstalk ZB Saturdays, 9am-midday.