THE OBAMA administration’s decision to move beyond the United Nations to build a coalition to put greater pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step aside is wise and necessary, amid growing violence that has claimed more than 5,400 lives. Russia and China seem unalterably determined to block action in the UN Security Council, and no one can accuse the administration of not having tried every diplomatic option to resolve the crisis in Syria.
Well into 2011, the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kept inviting Assad to prove himself a reformer. They moved with deliberate caution in imposing travel and financial sanctions on Syrian officials. And as it became brutally clear that nothing but a change of regime would end Assad’s bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters, the administration diligently attempted to mobilize support in the UN Security Council for the Arab League’s plan to ease Assad from power.