Is Obama “willing the end without willing the means?”

President Barack Obama in Landover, Maryland, April 1, 2011.

From Lexington, the Economist:  A worry that the European air forces might not have sufficent wherewithal was a subtext of the recent NATO meeting.

One lesson from NATO’s air campaign in Kosovo in the 1990s is that patience is sometimes rewarded. In Libya, too, if the allies hold their nerve, they may well achieve their aim. In Kosovo, however, Bill Clinton was not preoccupied in the way [President Barack] Obama is now by a desire to take a backseat while the Europeans do the driving. Letting others lead is consistent with his desire to see allies do some burden-sharing, minimise blowback against America in the Arab world and reassure voters at home that, despite appearances to the contrary, he has not launched America into a third hot war in the Muslim world. The danger of this approach is that he may have put America in the position of willing the  end without willing the means. As ever, the president himself radiates a serene confidence. But this is nonetheless a nerve-racking time for everyone else.  (photo: Getty)

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