WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Most American presidents are reluctant warriors. Abraham Lincoln spoke of the onset of the Civil War in the passive voice in his Second Inaugural Address. ("And the war came.") William McKinley "went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance" whether to take the Philippines and "uplift and civilize and Christianize them." Woodrow Wilson waited until the escalation of German submarine warfare before committing to World War I, nearly three years after the conflict commenced in Europe.