This May 26, 2014, shows Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saluting President Barack Obama during a Memorial Day ceremony in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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An apparently looming American clash with ISIS militants in Syria presents a defining test for President Barack Obama's doctrine of often lethal, but limited, no-boots-on-the-ground warfare.When Obama sketched his blueprint for flexing U.S. power, at West Point military academy in May, he characteristically positioned himself between quagmire-wary realists and interventionists hooked on the hammer of U.S. military power.Obama's rules of war allow unilateral force when U.S. citizens and allies are in peril and emphasize drone strikes and air power.U.S. force spurred modest advances by Iraqi and Kurdish forces against ISIS, and ethnic Yazidis were spared from genocide.U.S. forces sent to pound Syria could be operating in the dark.Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says ISIS can only be defeated if hit in Syria as well as Iraq.Though the White House refuses to work with the Syrian leader, he looms large because he would win if ISIS is extinguished.
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