The United States last week started bombing radical Islamist positions in northern Iraq. But President Barack Obama had barely given the order before pundits began asking about the end game.
That, of course, depends on what America wants to achieve in Iraq, and what U.S. officials think is possible.
For some, mission creep is a key concern. The current campaign has already expanded from sending 300 military advisors into Iraq to missile strikes and supplying Kurdish forces with weapons to combat the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS or ISIL).
And the president is reportedly considering sending even more advisors.
The stated goal of American strikes was to protect U.S. personnel in the city of Erbil and to provide an escape route for the minority Yazidis who had fled advancing militants from the Islamic State.
Those goals appear largely accomplished. Though the situation of the Yazidis remains desperately dire — the refugees are stranded on a forbidden mountain range with little food or water — for now, at least, the radical fighters can't reach them. Also, U.S. strikes appear to have largely destroyed the militants' artillery positions so they no longer threaten Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.