There are several reasons not to intervene militarily in another country’s conflict, even modestly. One is the potential for mission creep.
We already could detect the signs of mission creep in Iraq. Now, with the stepped-up United States airstrikes after the Islamic State’s horrific execution of American reporter James Foley, the signs are clearer than ever.
On Aug. 7, President Barack Obama said that the U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq were to protect Americans from the Islamic State’s threat to the Kurdish city of Erbil, where the U.S. government has a consulate. He also said Americans would be protected anywhere in Iraq, including Baghdad. Finally, he said airstrikes would be part of a humanitarian mission to save “thousands — perhaps tens of thousands” — of Yezidis who were trapped and desperate on Mount Sinjar.
But in later statements Obama intimated that he had other objectives.