Barack Obama's hugely symbolic decision on Iraq

Credit: Reuters

So America is back in Iraq.

This instinctively non-interventionist President has sent pilots and aircrews back into danger in the skies over Northern Iraq.

It may be portrayed as a limited operation - there is no talk of ground forces - but it is a hugely symbolic decision.

This time the White House is pitching the US involvement as a humanitarian mission with teeth.

Credit: Reuters

Seventy-two pallets of humanitarian supplies were dropped overnight from low altitude by several aircraft. There is no word on whether the aid reached those in desperate need.

At the same time, President Obama has pre-authorised air strikes if ISIS militants threaten Irbil. The city is significant because it's home to a US diplomatic consulate and to American military assessment teams.

Credit: Reuters

But the action the President announced overnight is a clear strategic risk.

Airdrops may keep a few thousand people alive for several days as they huddle in the Sinjar mountains. But it's not a solution.

There needs to be a humanitarian corridor established or a safe haven created. But both require ground troops.

Credit: Reuters

So the danger is America - for all its good intentions - is just tinkering with a crisis it cannot contain.

Some will worry that President Obama is being sucked back into the quagmire. Others that this twin mission is too little, too late.

But all Americans will wake up this morning realising that they still can't escape from the ghastly shadow of Iraq.

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