In the most important single move for Middle East peace in this decade, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appear poised to send former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell as special envoy for Middle East diplomacy. Those who claimed Obama would wait did not understand either Obama or the world. The world cannot wait. Obama will not wait. As he promised during the campaign, Obama has started on day one to change American policy and seek a lasting peace in the Middle East.

America has only one president: Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMichelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez exchange Ginsburg memories Pence defends Trump's 'obligation' to nominate new Supreme Court justice The militia menace MORE. Consider what he has done in his opening hours as president. Torture in our times by our nation has ended. Guantánamo will be closed within the year. The president spent his first day in office calling leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Israel for starters and now appears poised to send Mitchell to the Middle East. Ladies and gentlemen, this is change, a very big change indeed, starting from day one, as promised.

The road to peace in the Middle East will be long, winding, hard, challenging and uphill. As I stated in my column in the paper on Wednesday, this will be a long hard slog for sure. The crises, conflicts and torment of the Middle East did not begin overnight and will not end overnight. But the long road begins by taking the first step, and the first step is an American president who is fully committed and engaged in the mission of Middle East peace.

When President Bush first took office, the word went forth that he would not be engaged. When Bush announced his "road map" he described himself as "the master of low expectations," which immediately signaled that his low expectations would be met. By contrast, Obama has started immediately calling leaders, ending controversial policies, and preparing to name a world-class, first-rate special envoy in George Mitchell.

History will judge Obama's Inaugural as a great inflection point for the Middle East as well as the United States. There will be moves to open doors to Iran and to be more active in soothing relations between Pakistan and India. There will be an appeal to the world community by ending torture and closing Guantánamo. There will be new programs to reduce poverty, misery and disease for people through the Middle East, including and especially Gaza. And above all is George Mitchell as über-negotiator for Middle East peace.

Mitchell is a world-class heavyweight with major clout in Washington and with leaders around the world who know him well. He succeeded brilliantly in negotiating an end to the carnage in Ireland, which seemed so intractable at the time, and now seems, only a few years later, a distant memory. Mitchell was able to use his diplomatic talents and persuasions to broker one of the hardest conflicts in the world, in Ireland, and has a history of calling on all parties in the Middle East to make concessions for peace, which augurs well for his ability to be an honest and effective broker.

The mission in the Middle East will be hard, tough, challenging, uphill and against great odds. But for the first time in this decade America has a president willing to put his prestige and clout behind the mission and a negotiating heavyweight in Mitchell with a history of success and the clout to make things possible, which is the precondition for any success in this conflict-torn region.

The hard work now begins, and the page is turned.