The Syrian body politic is in the process of slow-motion dismemberment, for the head of state has lost quite a few of his extremities. Yet Assad is clinging to power in this shrunken entity, fearful of what might happen to his physical body if he should leave power, voluntarily or involuntarily.
It should be clear after four bloody years in Syria that if we are to make any progress moving forward, it is necessary to shed illusions and fantasies that have shaped too much of the discussion about the conflict.
Eventually, Assad or his sons must renounce power; history teaches that no repressive regime lasts forever. But how long until this family falls? How long until "might makes right" is replaced by morality, until the pen and law and human decency really do triumph over the sword?
Anyone who believes limited strikes will not escalate into larger scale commitment is underestimating the complexity of the conflict. And besides, the United States isn't even committed to a regime change.
The new constitution will not solve the country's political, security and economic problems. It does, however, lay the groundwork for a democratic platform that can be used to stage upcoming parliamentary elections -- and possibly -- early presidential ones.
Ask anybody in the Syrian opposition or intelligentsia about political change in Syria, and they would say that Article 8 of the constitution needs to be removed immediately in order for people to start taking the government's reform promises seriously.
The pre-Baath era in Syria is generally acknowledged by most people as the "golden era" of Syrian democracy. Even radical Baathists who refused to admit that in the past now nod affirmatively when such a bold statement is made.
The new political party law in Syria is very important, but has been overshadowed by news of street demonstrations, violence, refugees fleeing to Turkey, and military intervention in different Syrian cities.
Syria has spent much of the past six years trying to escape the international isolation led by the US and will be loath to face a fresh European-led economic/diplomatic boycott that is supported by all the main players in the EU.
If Obama could declare it was time for Gaddafi and Mubarak to go, the latest violence throughout Syria compels the White House to issue the same demand on Assad, with policy prescriptions to back that demand up.