If Obama thinks Assad should go, what is he prepared to do about it?

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  • We should have called for #Assad to be overthrown 5 months ago: it might not have much impact now #Syria

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  • Syria isn't guaranteed to open up to #democracy @AmbJohnBolton

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  • A modest increase in #sanctions will only allow the brutality to continue in #Syria #Assad #Iran

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I suppose this is better late than never [President Obama's call for Syrian President Assad to step aside]. It's the right thing to do.

The administration should have called for Assad to be overthrown five months ago or indeed we should have done this years ago, but as a practical matter right now, I'm not sure it's going to have that much impact. It certainly raises the question--if that's what the president thinks--what is he prepared to do about it, if anything?

Some estimate that as many as 2,500 or more Syrians have been killed since the crackdown began in March. It's the right thing to do. I just wish they had done it about five months ago.

"...without some outside intervention, it's going to be very bloody for a long time, even if Assad goes." -- John Bolton

But given the stakes that Iran has in keeping the Assad regime in power, without some outside intervention, it's going to be very bloody for a long time, even if Assad goes. It doesn't necessarily mean it [Syria] will open up democracy. And it does raise the question of incoherence in American foreign policy given that we've been, along with our NATO allies, involved militarily in Libya these past nearly five months without effect there, either.

FOX NEWS CHANNEL CO-ANCHOR, MARTHA MacCALLUM: And that's the question, the Libya comparison is very stark here. So how are the situations different, the president called for an ouster of Qaddafi in Libya, it hasn't happened yet, we've been involved with NATO forces for much, much longer, the president said it was going to be days, perhaps weeks, it's been months in Libya. Are we about to embark on another war in Syria?

BOLTON: We'll have to wait and see what they have to say and I think that's perhaps the biggest news in whatever these statements hold. I still think that Qaddafi is going to go in Libya--at least they certainly hope so but it's more difficult in Syria.

I do think it exposes, though, the United States to the charge of just being a rhetorical power. If you say you want a government like Bashir Assad's to go but you're not prepared to do anything other than a modest increase in sanctions, in effect, that's giving Assad and his Iranian cohorts license to continue the brutality inside Syria, to continue the killing, to do what it takes to stay in power, basically.

John R. Bolton is a senior fellow at AEI.

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John R.
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  • John R. Bolton, a diplomat and a lawyer, has spent many years in public service. From August 2005 to December 2006, he served as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations. From 2001 to 2005, he was under secretary of state for arms control and international security. At AEI, Ambassador Bolton's area of research is U.S. foreign and national security policy.

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