Syrian President Assad is attacking citizens at random, according to eyewitness accounts.
"Women and children have got used to seeing bodies in the street and blood in the street and body parts," one anti-Assad activist said. "We are asking for help."
The U.N. cavalry isn't on its way, thanks to China and Russia's veto of a resolution to urge Assad to step aside, proving once again that the United Nations is a tool that hampers good actions and legitimizes bad ones.
Syria is of great strategic importance in the Middle East because it's the latest proxy battleground to fight spreading Iranian influence. Stratfor put it this way:
Should the al Assad regime -- or the Syrian regime without al Assad -- survive, Iran would therefore enjoy tremendous influence with Syria, as well as with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The current course in Iraq coupled with the survival of an Alawite regime in Syria would create an Iranian sphere of influence stretching from western Afghanistan to the Mediterranean. This would represent a fundamental shift in the regional balance of power and probably would redefine Iranian relations with the Arabian Peninsula. This is obviously in Iran's interest. It is not in the interests of the United States, however.
The private intelligence firm stated that preventing the spread of Iranian influence to Syria is a "primary concern" but needs to try to do so "without crossing Iran's red lines" that might lead to a disruption of oil (particularly in an election year).
Options in Syria are limited for the United States. Direct military intervention is not realistic given the overextension of our forces. The U.N. route ran into problems with Russia and China, both of which have an interest to help Iran, namely weakening the U.S. Covert action and supporting the uprising is really the only hand the United States can play, and the Syrians are responding to that with a brutal crackdown.
This country's dominance in the world introduced a sort of Pax Americana, whereby widespread peace accompanied widespread stability. Our slow retreat from the top echelon of global power will leave us standing idly by, only able to helplessly watch more and more human catastrophes. Those internal dissidents who helped chip away at U.S. hegemony over the decades are indirectly responsible for the ensuing chaos America is increasingly finding harder to stop.