It's time for the world to turn up the pressure on Syria. More than 20,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the uprising against the brutal regime of Bashar Assad, who has sworn not to back down in the civil war.
It is an appalling and intolerable slaughter conducted by a murderous regime that has invited overthrow for decades. Assad needs to be gone and it is up to the rest of the world - led by the nations nearest to Syria - to hurry him out as best they can.
That's not going to be easy. Assad unaccountably retains the support of Russia, and his military is more powerful than was Moammar Gadhafi's when the United States and European nations acted in support of Libyan rebels.
Still, there are options. France, which should be among the nations leading this effort, has urged the international community to back a no-fly zone over parts of Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said this country is already considering that possibility.
It is also important to exploit the significant number of defections from Assad's regime for intelligence and to help persuade other highly placed political and military leaders to follow suit. Each defection weakens the regime and provides new information to use in the campaign to dislodge Assad.
The best outcome would be for Assad, sooner rather than later, to acknowledge that he is in a no-win situation and to find a country that will accept him. Whether his ultimate fate lies with the slain Gadhafi is beyond predicting, but the risk to him is obvious and rising.
As of today, Assad calculates that he has more to lose than to gain by giving up power. It is up to Europe, other Middle East nations and the United States to change the factors involved so that the murderer is forced to recalculate.
The removal of Assad will work to the interest of Syrians who want a chance at a better life; of the Middle East, which would benefit from greater stability; and of the rest of the world for the same reason. Only Iran and Hezbollah benefit from Assad's continuing in power.
There is no telling what a post-Assad Syria would become, but the rebels there have demonstrated their determination. To the extent that other nations can assist them, they must.