limited war

a war conducted with less than a nation's total resources and restricted in aim to less than total defeat of the enemy.
a war restricted to a relatively small area of the world and involving few warring nations.

1935–40 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
limited war
a war in which the belligerents do not seek the total destruction of the enemy, esp one in which nuclear weapons are deliberately not used

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
They also observed and revised their operational doctrines based on the needs of limited war.
Renewed interest in the tactics of limited war led some people to recast our history in terms of the fad.
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