When President Obama announced Thursday that he had authorized air strikes against ISIS and humanitarian aid for the Yazidis in northern Iraq, he made it clear he wants U.S. involvement in the country to be minimal. But it's not so clear what his long-term plan is.
"I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home. ... As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq."
Obama's reluctance to go all-in on Iraq has been in the headlines for days.
"If you're going to have an air campaign, you're not going to hit an artillery piece there and a truck over there. That's preposterous. You either do it seriously or you don't do it at all."
"These are political gestures, not serious military operations." ...
"One of the greatest oxymorons in the world is 'limited military operations,' because inherently military operations can't be limited."
For most of those critics, the preferred solution is to give weapons and military support to northern Iraq's Kurdish troops, who have been the main force opposing ISIS.
But there might be a reason behind the president's reluctance to put more advanced U.S. weaponry into the country.
The Washington Post says the administration is hoping the crisis will finally pressure Iraq's leaders into forming a non-sectarian government once and for all, which Obama thinks is the real long-term solution for the country.
Friday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the country's government should take the lead in combating Isis, saying, "This is an Iraqi responsibility. This is not a U.S. responsibility." Obama made a similar comment in Thursday's speech.
And a writer for Time says there is a precedent for limited military action: the air strikes Obama ordered on Libya during the country's 2011 civil war to topple Muammar Gaddafi. Those strikes were also aimed at protecting U.S. interests and staving off a humanitarian disaster.
Still, Iraq's leaders aren't expected to hammer out a political agreement for weeks, if ever. In the meantime, ISIS has continued to make advances, driving Kurdish forces back and taking control of the country's largest dam.
This video contains images from Getty Images.