A lot has changed in the world since 1988.

During that year, the cost of a stamp rose to 25 cents. The price of gasoline hovered around 72 cents per gallon. Crocodile Dundee II was the top-grossing movie of the year at a little more than $24 million. Stephen Hawking’s best-selling book explaining the universe, A Brief History of Time, was released. George Michael topped the charts with four number one songs. Barry Sanders won the Heisman Trophy after rushing for 2,850 yards and scored 44 touchdowns at Oklahoma State University. President Ronald Reagan was completing his last year in the White House.

But many things have stayed the same. From February to September of that year, the al-Anfal Campaign resulted in the deaths of up to 182,000 Kurds and other minority groups in northern Iraq. Today, the country appears to be on the verge of descending into another genocidal period.

Reports in the past few days and weeks have grown increasingly alarming as the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has upped the violence in the country. At least one news organization has reported dozens of Christian, Kurdish, non-Sunni Muslim children were recently beheaded in a park in Mosul. Iraqi government officials said hundreds of Yazidi (a religion based upon Zoroastrian philosophies) women under the age of 35 were captured by ISIS forces. The women are now being held in the same city and are being given to ISIS soldiers as slaves. Another reported 50,000 Yazidi people, roughly half of them children, are surrounded in the mountains outside Sinjar with no food or water. On Thursday, ISIS told Christians in Qaraqosh, the largest non-Islam population in the country, to either leave, convert to Islam, or be killed.

At the same time, ISIS forces have also moved close enough to U.S. and other humanitarian aid countries’ centers that President Obama ordered airstrikes the past two days to attack the terrorist positions. U.S. assets also dropped supplies to the trapped Yazidis in Sinjar.

To say any of the events occurring over the past few weeks is solely the fault of recent U.S. administrations is naive and uninformed. In addition to the mass killing of women and children under the Hussein leadership in the 80s, Iraq history shows racial and religious mass murders going back to the 1920s (Simele Massacre) and earlier.

The current Iraqi government appears either unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to keep the country safe from these types of attacks. If the U.S. and other countries do nothing to help the Iraqi government, then the world will be treated to another round of atrocities to rival the likes of Idi Amin in Uganda and the Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia. More than likely, airstrikes with either planes or drones will only go so far in holding down the terrorist violence so if the U.S. becomes involved, ground forces may be needed in order to accomplish any portion of peace. So far the Obama administration has vehemently denied any plans to put troops in Iraq, going so far as to leave the airstrikes an unnamed operation to reinforce they are only small, temporary acts.

In the end, the U.S. and the Obama administration are facing the Morton’s Fork Paradox. In the late 15th century, the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Morton, stated any man living modestly must be saving money and could therefore afford to pay more taxes. Morton also held that any person living an extravagant and lavish lifestyle must be so rich they could obviously afford to pay more taxes. In other words, Morton’s Fork states that every case, despite the circumstances, leads to the same unpleasant end.

Iraq, and for that matter much of the Middle East, is the Morton’s Fork for America. If we sit by and do nothing, tens of thousands of people, including women and children, will die. If we attempt to help in any way, we will invite attacks and put the lives of our soldiers and others in jeopardy, resulting in people dying.

Either way, there is no good answer.