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Talking with Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of American troops in the Middle East, is a paradoxical reminder of the limits of U.S. military power to determine political outcomes. American bombs helped destroy the Islamic State in Syria, but they can’t stitch the rag doll of the Syrian nation back together.

Syria’s plight actually got a bit worse this week, as Turkey invaded the border region known as Afrin. Turkey says it’s protecting itself against the Syrian Kurdish organization known as the PKK, which dominates Afrin and which Turkey regards as a terrorist group. The problem is that related Syrian Kurdish forces (under a different name) have been the United States’ most important ally in defeating the Islamic State.

Opinion | The U.S. alliance with Turkey just lunged toward the breaking point

As the Islamic State battle ends, old feuds resume.


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