We live in a different world. The difference can be overstated. I would not say it’s now 90-10 in the other direction. Or even 50-50. But it’s more like, in my estimation, about 65-35 national security to humanitarian responsibility. That’s a considerable change. The development of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine in recent times may have nudged the scales a bit further.

In sum, I don’t believe that we live in a world anymore where a Hama can happen and the Western powers do nothing. More than 14,000 have died in Syria so far, says the anti-government Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The difference between that and Hama is that the current slaughter is happening slowly. But one of these days, and perhaps wth the aid of Russian attack helicopters, the regime will really cut loose. And the West will have to do…something.

With all the usual caveats about not knowing what will come next, we’d be well rid of Assad. Hezbollah might collapse, without Syria as a conduit for arms from Iraq. Lebanon might be able to breathe free air. Iran would find itself more isolated. All depending on what comes next, of course, which is a big question, but the potential upside of a post-Assad Syria is great indeed.