What if They (The Bad Guys) Believe They Are Winning?
In each case, Iran and/or its Russian buddies are major actors. That is because they are integral parts of the global alliance--running from North Korea to Venezuela--that is waging war against us. Those are the key enemies we must thwart if we want a good outcome on each of the several battlefields.
But it is hard to find Western leaders willing to acknowledge the existence of this global conflict, let alone propose winning strategies. The urgency of a winning strategy is clear enough, and we have the crucial tools with which to conduct it: freedom and democracy.
Does anyone doubt that there would be less violence in the Middle East if the Iranian tyranny were replaced with a government freely elected by the Iranian people, whose desire for freedom and closer ties to the free world have been demonstrated so many times? So help them! Does anyone doubt that a Ukranian defeat of the Russians would advance the cause of freedom all over Europe? So help them! If you think sanctions work, then fight for tough sanctions on Putin, fight for tough sanctions on Iran and sanctions-busting countries like Turkey, China and Qatar.
But don't throw your hands in the air and say that, because we can't influence the political infighting in Moscow, Tehran and Gaza, we can't win the global war. We can. Tactics vary from battlefield to battlefield, but our primary weapons are political and economic, not military.
Final thought: in one of his best essays, Eli Lake documents the limitations of Israeli intelligence. The Israelis were surprised at the scope of Iran's covert supply of missiles to Hamas in Gaza. It doesn't surprise me. One will get you five that we'd be flabbergasted to discover the Iranians' program to supply, fund and train terrorists, including some now in our own country. In like manner, we'd be amazed at the positive effect of the fall of the Khamenei/Rouhani regime on the Islamists' ability to slaughter. It wouldn't "solve" the problem, but it would greatly advance our cause.
Instead, we're helping enrich the Iranian regime and doing nothing to help its enemies. Did you really think Khamenei was going to agree to seriously limit his nuclear program, when he's getting lots of goodies without doing any such thing? Do you really think that the Iranian regime will end its war against us?
I don't. And I don't think Putin will, either.
We can win or lose this war, but we can't talk our way out of it.