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NO matter how President Obama tries to spin Friday’s targeted airstrikes on Sunni militants, the U.S. has re-engaged in combat operations in Iraq.

The same leader who swept into office in 2008 on an anti-war platform and removed combat troops from Iraq three years later is now repeating the mistakes of his predecessors.

Obama must do all he can to avoid continued unilateral action in the Middle East and press for other Arab nations and world allies to act together.

The president made a case Thursday evening for humanitarian aid to minority groups suffering at the hands of extremists with the Islamic State, but he has not convinced Americans that now is the time for military action.

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Other powers, including Great Britain and Turkey, have only agreed to provide humanitarian assistance, according to The New York Times.

Absent a strong, united coalition, U.S. planes in the region should only drop food and water — not bombs.

The Islamic State is made up of hard-line Sunnis. Using targeted strikes to destroy some Sunni extremists might be a short-term solution, but it would not exterminate their religious fervor. In fact, some experts warn this tactic would only embolden their ruthless behavior.

Obama’s administration must focus on convincing other nations why it’s in their best interest to come to the table and determine what means are necessary to build a peaceful Iraq.

Since the U.S. (then led by President George W. Bush) invaded Iraq in 2003,taxpayers have spent nearly $1.7 trillion on the war and its residual effects. Nearly 4,500 troops have lost their lives. More than 32,000 service members returned home wounded.

How much more are Americans willing to pay for a conflict it cannot fix alone? And why should the U.S. intervene in Iraq while it ignores the Syrian civil war, where the death toll has passed 170,000?

“As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” Obama promised on Thursday evening.

Less than 12 hours later, reports surfaced of at least two airstrikes by U.S. fighter jets.

Americans and Congress must press Obama to show more restraint.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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