Since October 7, there have been more than one hundred attacks by Iran-backed militias against American forces in the Middle East. On January 28, a drone strike, probably launched by Iran’s most powerful proxy in Iraq, killed three and injured more than 40 American soldiers. Iran-supported Houthis have launched dozens of attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea. Iran’s most important proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, sustains a low-grade confrontation with Israel. And, of course, 130 Israelis remain captive to Iran-backed Hamas as hostages in Gaza.

In other words, there is a war, sometimes hot, sometimes cool, happening across the entire Middle East between Iran, Israel, the U.S., and various other smaller actors. What does Iran want out of this war? Is it achieving its objectives? What is it concerned about?

To answer these and other questions, Ray Takeyh here joins Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver. Takeyh is a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and Foreign Affairs, and the author, just last week, of a New York Times opinion piece called “Why Iran Doesn’t Want a War.”

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.