Quotes of the day

“Syria sharply escalated its already deadly campaign to crush a five-week uprising early Monday, sending troops backed by tanks, snipers and knife-wielding security forces into the southern city where the rebellion began, according to witnesses and activists…

“Monday appeared to be the first time the authorities have sent tanks into population centers since the protests began…

“A leading Syrian rights campaigner Suhair Atassi said that authorities were launching a war to ‘annihilate pro-democracy movement,’ according to Reuters.”

“‘It’s clear there’s now a strategy to crush any form of dissent using overwhelming force,’ Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher for Syria and Lebanon, told TIME. ‘There’s been a decision that they will tolerate no more dissent and that this has to end… They are still operating as if they’re under the emergency law, picking up people without arrest warrants, nothing has changed. if anything it’s gotten worse.'”

“Obama administration officials said they are readying orders that would freeze U.S. assets of senior Syrian officials and deny them permission to travel in the United States.

“U.S. sanctions are unlikely to produce a dramatic effect because Syrian officials apparently own few U.S. assets. But the move signaled a notable shift by the Obama administration, which has worked hard to build better relations with Damascus, a regime it considers a strategic key for security in the Middle East.”

“We want the American people, with this video, to understand what the unarmed young people of Syria demanding freedom are up against. We will never stop until we get our freedom. By sharing with you these horrors, Syrians are not asking for boots on the grounds, or even military action of any kind. But we are asking for your support to mobilize policy makers in the U.S. to condemn Assad and to put him, and his killers, up for trial in a court of international law for crimes against humanity.”

Click the image to watch.

“President Obama seems to want to leave the position of the leader of the free world vacant deliberately, to prove a point about our limits and our deference to others. He’s holding an ongoing world seminar on the dispensability of the formerly indispensable nation

“When protests broke out in Syria, a country run by an Assad family mafia that has facilitated the killing of American soldiers in Iraq, Obama could barely summon a harshly negative statement when the regime began shooting people. Elsewhere in the Middle East, the so-called Arab Spring is a decidedly ambiguous affair. It is toppling flawed U.S. allies, with no guarantee anything better will replace them. In Syria, it’s much simpler: A ruthless anti-American regime seeks its survival by firing live ammunition at funeral-goers.

“For the realist, the unrest presented the opportunity to give an enemy of the United States a good, hard shove. For the idealist, it presented the opportunity to stand up for what’s right. The Obama administration initially did neither. Softheaded and hardhearted, the administration mumbled bromides about how it sure hoped Bashar al-Assad would begin reforming soon. Must America be so naive about its enemies and so shamefaced about its values?”

“The violence in Syria echoes that of what happened in Libya, with dozens of civilian protestors being killed at the hand of a Middle East leader, yet the White House is defending its response so far to the unrest in Syria by arguing that the two scenarios are different.

“White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that Libya was a ‘unique situation’ in that large portions of the country were out of control.

“‘We had a [Muammar al-]Qaddafi regime that was moving against its own people in a coordinated military fashion and was about to assault a very large city on the promise that it would show it — the regime would show that city and its residents no mercy,’ Carney said of Libya.

“He also says that with Libya, there was also an international consensus to act and support from the Arab League for action.”