On Friday, President Barack Obama ruled out sending U.S. troops back into Iraq to fight the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, or ISIS, fighters as they take over large areas of the country. He did leave the door open to a set of nebulously named “other options.” What form might those take? In May, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made clear that he would allow the U.S. to carry out Predator and Reaper drone strikes in the country against groups hostile to his government. Today, many in Washington are asking when will the U.S. send drones back to Iraq?
Armed drones may provide the administration with a cosmetic military solution for the ongoing crisis, affording the U.S. the opportunity to look tough and engage ISIS without endangering U.S. troops or creating the impression that we we’re re-fighting a war that we declared over in 2011. Unfortunately, armed drones by themselves would be relatively ineffective against an enemy like ISIS, the brutal offshoot of al-Qaeda, according to experts.