While Iraq’s government is not requesting a surge in U.S. ground forces like the one President Bush ordered in 2007, Maliki’s government has been asking for the U.S. to conduct targeted air strikes and the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance work to find those targets.

And there are plenty of new targets. On Tuesday, the al Qaeda offshoot known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) overran Iraqi military positions in Mosul, the country’s second largest city. On Wednesday, reports from Iraq said the terrorist group was pushing toward Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.

If President Obama agrees to launch drone strikes in Iraq, it would not be unprecedented for the region. The United States is playing a similar role in Iraq’s neighbor, Yemen, with intense counterterrorism training and drone strikes. But Obama also has boasted that he ended the U.S. war in Iraq and thus far has been hesitant to reenter the conflict.