While Obama administration officials downplay the military challenge in Iraq, Iran is sending combat troops.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday became the latest official to declare: "Our view is that this is not primarily a military challenge."

But what options, besides military action, are left on the table for the United States? The $5 billion counterterrorism partnerships fund was suggested by Psaki. Perhaps of greater concern should be the Iranian deployment of troops into Iraq.

As reported June 13, Iran sent some of its Revolutionary Guard forces across the border into Iraq, to support Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Both Iran and the al-Maliki government are Shiite, giving them common ground to fight together against the uprising of Sunni violence.

The Obama administration's attempts to convince Americans and the world that the unraveling of Iraq is not a military challenge are lacking. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered the carrier George H.W. Bush to the Persian Gulf on June 14. The Bush is accompanied there by the guided missile destroyer Truxton, guided missile cruiser Philippine Sea and the amphibious ship Mesa Verde.