MINNEAPOLIS -- As military strikes go, analysts will tell you Friday's bombings are relatively small.
But make no mistake, the strikes are a milestone -- marking the first U.S. combat action in Iraq since 2011.
"It was a necessary step," said University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs Professor of Planning and Public Affairs Ragui Assaad.
In principle, Assaad said he does not support U.S. military intervention in Iraq. He believes our earlier involvement was the result of "misguided policies." But he also argues the U.S. contributed to the current instability by supporting a non-representative government.
"It's due to the fact that the U.S. installed a government in Iraq headed by (Nouri al-) Maliki, which is a highly sectarian government that is very much dominated by Shiites and has done everything possible to exclude the Sunnis from the rule," Assaad said.
Beyond that rationale, Assaad argues the U.S. needs to intervene for humanitarian reasons and to ensure its own security.
"The U.S. has spent a lot of resources and blood and lives in Iraq to try and get a stable situation there. And if they just abandon Iraq right now, it's just going to collapse into chaos," he said. "And these states will be failed states, which will eventually result in terrorism here in the U.S."
As for the larger question -- whether the resumption of combat may result in troops on the ground -- Assaad says "no" given the United States' historical success in air campaigns, provided they're followed by supporting local groups allied to the U.S.
In this case, that would be the Iraqi Kurds and "whatever Iraqi government emerges," from negotiations currently taking place, Assaad said.