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U.S. President Barack Obama has laid out a detailed strategy for how his administration plans to combat ISIS, which controls a substantial portion of Syria and Iraq.In the Middle East game of thrones, Obama is playing his hand as well as he can. He knows that a U.S.-led military effort can significantly weaken ISIS, but that only a combined military-political effort can defeat it. Iran needs U.S. airpower at least as much as the U.S. needs Iranian-backed ground troops.Unless U.S. military action is seen as actually protecting the lives and property of the Iraqi and Syrian people, the U.S. will quickly lose the propaganda war to ISIS.That will not just hurt the U.S. in Syria and Iraq. It will shape popular views in other Arab states, limiting their governments' ability to work with the U.S. Most damaging of all, a purely strategic justification for military action – in defense of core U.S. interests – leaves no room to do what actually needs to be done in Syria.
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