Tony Karon at Time Global Spin lays out the realities confronting any hopes of Syria spinning off into a full-fledged civil war - one that already has sucked in all of Syria's neighbors as well as other regional and global powers. Meanwhile, reports of new massacres large and small - most recently at Hama, again - continue to roll in.
TK makes it plain that despite the hectoring of the Three Amigos, the US and its allies remain reluctant to intervene militarily; more injury than salving would come from that. Rather, the only significant leverage that might be brought to bear on Assad will likely have to come from his allies. And the ally with the most at stake is Iran.
Have Obama's people entertained the possibility that Iran just might be persuaded to drop its support for Assad's butchery if the US et al were to offer, in return, backing off the ever harsher sanctions on Iran's oil sales, agreeing to limited nuclear enrichment, and proposing talks that might lead to a "grand bargain" in the region. Netanyahu and his acolytes in Congress would scream bloody murder - that Obama was selling out Israel - but it's those same acolytes (like the aforementioned Amigos) who've been demanding the rescue of Syria's people.
And one might note that Iran's backing away from Assad might allow Iran's Hezbollah allies in Lebanon to recoup some of their social-justice halo that has been so badly tarnished by being linked to Assad via Hezbollah's relationship with Syria.
Many in the US foreign-policy establishment - and everyone associated with the Israel lobby - is looking to bring down the Iranian regime by bringing down Assad. But as things now stand, Syria's people will keep getting butchered, Iran's people will endure ever more suffering as US-led sanction efforts ramp up (and the price they get for their diminishing oil exports goes down as a result of increased Iraqi and Libyan production) - and they will increasingly blame the US for the evils befalling them.
If Obama truly cares about the fate of Syria's people, or hopes to reclaim any of the shiny promise of his 2009 Cairo speech, he needs to reach out to Iran, with a serious offer that might induce Khamenei et al to back away from Assad.