But politicians seem more concerned about U.S. credibility than suffering Syrians. So what's next for Washington? If I were president, I'd try to carefully navigate between two horrendous mistakes my predecessors made.
Until recently, life was normal in the busy northern city of Aleppo, popularly referred to as the "industrial capital" of Syria. Then, revolt reached Aleppo, signalling a major challenge for Syrian rebels struggling to topple 49 years of Baath rule.
The failure to renew the diplomatic mission being led by Kofi Annan (with its associated group of observers) is no great loss. The peace plan under which Annan was operating had and has no chance of being accepted.
For Turkey, leading on Syria and getting it right is critical. But Syria is a complicated challenge because of the interaction between domestic, regional, and international factors, which present Ankara with a nightmarish set of moving parts.
As fighting intensifies in Syria on the eve of the declared deadline for troop withdrawals and a ceasefire, it is international mediator Kofi Annan's proposed peace process that many see at risk of burial.
Syrian President Bashar Assad, a lifelong student of the United Nations' failings when it comes to Israel and Palestine, has insulated himself from the consequences of the carnage. The UN needs to create a Goldstone-type inquiry for the atrocities in Syria.