Since overrunning large swaths of Iraq in the last two months, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has rebranded itself a caliphate, declared its megalomaniacal leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi a caliph of all Muslims, and set about enforcing a Medieval form of Islamic jurisprudence. ISIL has warned non-Muslims in territories under its control that they must pay a steep fine, convert to Islam, leave the country, or face death. The minority Yazidis, meanwhile, aren't even afforded those limited options extended to other non-Muslims. A pre-Islamic faith rooted in Zoroastrianism, ISIL consider the Yazidis "devil worshippers" worthy of death. Tens of thousands are currently holed up on Sinjar Mountain, surrounded by ISIL fighters ready to kill them.
Yesterday, the United States began airdropping humanitarian supplies to civilians and in the evening President Obama announced limited airstrikes against ISIL, something he left the door open for when he spoke about Iraq in June. The question of whether the U.S. ought to intervene to protect those civilians from ISIL and a situation U.S. policy helped create, writes Ed Krayewski, is a difficult one to answer.