What If We Were Winning But Nobody Noticed?
Lebanon and Iraq are increasingly under Iranian domination, but then again Hezbollah, the main Iranian instrument in Lebanon, and, along with the Revolutionary Guards the Iranian expeditionary force in Syria, is taking casualties, and the body bags are smuggled home in secret. There's lots of popular anger at the regime for its Syrian adventure. Some of the anger comes from with the Guards themselves, who see themselves used as cannon fodder by a regime that keeps raising the stakes.
It's like the case of the bumblebee, which, the engineers patiently explained to us, cannot fly (wrong ratio of wingspan to body mass, etcetera). But the bumblebees don't know that, and so they fly. And even make some honey. The geopolitical pundits did not expect the Syrian opposition to last, any more than they foresaw the Iranian uprising of 2009-2010, or the mass demonstrations in Venezuela, or the revolt against the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, or...
Life is full of surprises. It's better to admit we don't know what tomorrow will bring. But there are some basic rules, usually ignored by the strategists and intellectuals, of which the most important has a place of honor in Machiavelli's writings: tyranny is the most unstable form of government. Intellectuals have self-interested reasons for rather liking tyrants (especially when ideologically congenial--leftist intellectuals like leftist tyrants, rightist intellectuals admire ideologically like-minded rulers), but the air can go out of tyrannical balloons with amazing speed.
The flip side of that coin is that democracies and republics are far more durable, even though (maybe even because) they are fractious, sloppy, inefficient and, especially in foreign policy, typically indecisive.
Rule number two is that the world is slow to change. Except when the world is seized by convulsions and rapid change is the order of the day. We're currently in a period of profound change, from the bipolar Cold War world to...we know not what. But all those who advocate "stability" have failed to understand this moment.
Rule three is that this world is tailor-made for the American mission, which is to support freedom. Our current leaders can't understand this, because they view America-in-the-world as a bad thing, as the root cause of most of the world's problems, and they have been in cahoots with the anti-Americans. You know the litany by now: appease or embrace Iran and Putin and the Chavistas and the Brothers and the Castros. They are failing. See Rule One.
So maybe it's a race for the booby prize, a mad dash to see who can lose first.
Except (let's hope) the freedom fighters. You never know.