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OpinionColumnistsWilliam F. B. O'Reilly

Like it or not, America needs to elect a war leader

Protestors are seen here calling on President Barack

Protestors are seen here calling on President Barack Obama to help end the bloodshed caused by terrorist group ISIS. ISIS was seventh in Google's list of most-searched terms in 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Brandy Baker

You don't hear much from moral relativists when it comes to the Islamic State group.

Beheadings will do that.

So will beachfront-type massacres.

There's always been a clarity about atrocity, especially when it's committed right in front of your eyes. Even the Nazis and the Stalinists tried to hide their crimes. Not this bunch. The Islamic State revels in public horror. The terror cartel produces it for a world audience, episodically.

A recent video treat was of older Arabic men forced to kneel on explosive devices buried beneath them in the sand, which were then detonated. The men were first hobbled with rope, so they could neither fight back nor get away. Every few weeks, the group rolls out some new, gleefully choreographed manner of outrage, taunting the world to do something about it.

The United States can't prevent every terrible thing in the world. No nation can. But there's a special kind of wickedness to the Islamic State that the civilized world cannot countenance much longer. It daily challenges the moral tenets of a semicivilized planet. It will eventually demand an overwhelming response.

It's hard to know whether President Barack Obama effectively punted the Islamic State into the next presidency -- airstrikes alone won't take the group down -- because he didn't want to mar his legacy with more war, or because he's so peeved at our allies that he's unable to put together the international coalition needed to excise the group from Iraq and Syria.

Regardless, the ball is in the air, and the country should be making sure the right candidate for president fields it.

The two Bush presidencies showed starkly different strategies for dealing with a rogue actor.

George H.W. Bush spent months assembling a true world coalition, which notably included China. It gave him the moral authority to act. George W. Bush went into Iraq with a vastly scaled-down coalition. It felt like a unilateral action from the start. When things got dicey, public support wobbled.

It would probably behoove the country to stop talking about Donald Trump and to start asking for the next president's view on the use of force. He or she will almost certainly be using it.

William F. B. O'Reilly is a Republican consultant.