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EDGARTOWN, Mass. — President Barack Obama's summer vacation off the Massachusetts coast is coming to an end. The president was due back at the White House late Sunday after spending two weeks with his family on the island of Martha's Vineyard.
What a break it turned out to be. His attempt at rest and relaxation was largely overtaken by events involving Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, including the videotaped execution of an American journalist they had been holding hostage, and the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man. Obama broke from his vacation to deliver statements on Iraq, Missouri and journalist James Foley on four separate occasions, including one delivered during two days he spent back at the White House in the middle of the getaway. The unusual mid-vacation return to Washington had been scheduled before those issues came to dominate the news.
Still, in the midst of daily briefings on these matters and others, telephone consultations with nine world leaders and his other official responsibilities, Obama squeezed in nine rounds of golf on the island he has made his summer presidential retreat while shrugging off criticism about how he was spending the time away from Washington. Back at the White House, Obama will have to decide whether Foley's killing and the broader threat the Islamist State extremist group poses to U.S. interests in the region and elsewhere is reason enough to now seek to intervene militarily in Syria. He has resisted going that route for three years, even as the death toll in Syria's civil war approached 200,000, the government used chemical weapons against its people and the Islamic State group grew more powerful amid the chaos.
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