No Airstrikes, For Now

This is a relief:

Obama has opted not to conduct airstrikes in the immediate future partly because ISIS targets are difficult to identify, and it’s unclear if they would significantly alter the situation on the ground. U.S. military action has not been ruled out entirely, and in addition to the roughly 275 U.S. troops sent to Iraq to secure the American embassy, special forces soldiers may be deployed to assist the Iraqi army.

The New York Times reports that one option still under consideration is a “targeted, highly selective campaign of airstrikes” against ISIS, probably using drones. The campaign probably wouldn’t be launched for days or longer, and would depend on whether the U.S. can find a suitable target.

Zack updates us on possible US plans:

What the American response to the crisis in Iraq will look like still isn’t clear. The leading option appears to involve three planks. First, the deployment of US special forces to gather intelligence, provide battlefield guidance to Iraqi combat units, and possibly train Iraqi soldiers. Second, securing commitment to political reform from the Iraqi government, whose favoring of the Shia majority over the Sunni minority has exacerbated the conflict. Third, look for some avenue to cooperate with other countries in the region to support the anti-ISIS campaign (how that would be accomplished isn’t specified).

That said, airstrikes aren’t permanently ruled out. “U.S. strikes are still actively under discussion,” the Journal reports, “but [senior administration] officials cautioned Tuesday that they don’t expect Mr. Obama to put military action back on the table quickly.”

Robert Farley is against an aerial campaign:

Thinking of air power as a tool to simplify war and avoid its difficult complications is, tragically, a characteristic of the American strategic set, but there’s no reason we should continue to indulge it.