Obama’s reaction, as always, has been restrained. The world does much to disappoint him, but it apparently has nothing to teach him. Every signal he has recently sent — in his lack of an appropriate symbolic reaction to the Paris attacks, in his limp, equivocal performance beside a more determined British Prime Minister David Cameron — seems to be saying: I am not going to repeat George W. Bush’s overreaction to terrorism, which only feeds extremism.

So, Obama is careful to explain that terrorism is not “an existential threat.” “Intelligence and military force alone,” he says, “is not going to solve this problem.” And he urges Europeans to “not simply respond with a hammer.”

We have come a long way when an American president pompously urges the French to curb their cowboy instincts.