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What happens when an American plan for limited war against ISIS meets the savage reality of combat, as happened this week when the extremists pounded Kurdish fighters just inside Syria's border with Turkey?This calibrated approach makes sense to Allison, one of America's most experienced strategists, because it limits U.S. exposure in fighting an adversary that doesn't immediately threaten America.Turkey is a difficult ally but an essential one; doing nothing against ISIS would be unacceptably risky, but total war isn't a realistic option; the U.S. campaign may have begun awkwardly, but that's no reason to panic.Frustration with no-win conflicts led Gen. Colin Powell to declare what came to be known as the "Powell Doctrine" – that America should go to war only when vital national security is threatened, the public is supportive, allies are on board and there's a clear exit strategy. Obama, too, hoped to avoid frustrating, unpopular wars in Syria and Iraq.
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