It’s too late to send indirect messages to Khamenei. A very small military raid won’t do it. They would have to see that the threat of regime change is suddenly real — in Tehran or Damascus, it all comes to the same thing in their reckoning — to start taking Obama seriously.
So if he really wants to send a message to Tehran, he’s got to do it directly, and it has to take the form of a real threat to the regime.
It’s doable, although probably not by this president. It requires the United States to support the Iranian opposition, which is the greatest threat to Khamenei et. al. Indeed, it’s the only threat they take seriously. They know their people hate them (you don’t have three thousand prisoners on death row unless you’re worried).
We must hope that this constant refrain about “sending a message to Tehran” will finally prompt some American leaders to say, “Yeah, let’s send them a message: we are going to support your mortal enemies, we want a free Iran.”