But if one thing is clear from Mr. Assad's actions in recent months, the utterance of "magic democracy words" by Obama (as some supporters of his policy of keeping Ambassador Robert Ford in Damascus call them) won't shift the regime by themselves.
What's been more striking to me, given the mounting evidence that Syria is deliberately turning portions of restive cities into free-fire zones and torturing protesters to death in custody, including some teenage boys, is the lack of action from the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the past day alone, 17 protesters have been killed by security forces across the country, Al Jazeera reports. In Hama, a restive city where Assad's father and predecessor ordered thousands killed in the early 1980s for rising up against him, local activists say 200 have been killed since the start of Ramadan on Aug. 1 and more than 1,000 arrested.
Syria is five months into its uprising, and more than 2,000 people have been killed so far. The ICC opened up a formal investigation into Qaddafi and some of his lieutenants just three weeks into the country's uprising. Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested arrest warrants on May 16, which were duly handed out on June 27.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, who has been vigorous in his complaints about crimes in Libya, has been largely silent on Syria. But the violence in Syria has been as bad, or worse, than in Libya, and it's clearly being carried out as part of an orchestrated campaign.