How many tens of thousands more Syrians must die before President Obama decides to lift a finger to dislodge Bashar al-Assad and help speed the end of the suffering people?

It’s an election year and Obama has apparently decided to run as the president who ends (not “wins”) wars, not who uses American hard power. We’re out of Iraq, running for the exit in Afghanistan and not about to engage in Syria. Besides, if he started using the military, some might wonder why he is slashing its budget, making it harder for our troops to accomplish their mission.

There is plenty the U.S. could do. The conservative Foreign Policy Initiative is out with a bulletin making the case that “rather than end the slaughter and begin withdrawing from cities, it is clear the now failed peace-plan has given Assad’s forces cover to continue brutal operations against the opposition.” FPI argues:

As the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) wrote in November 2011, the United States should pursue a wide range of additional options to achieve these goals:

•Initiate and intensify direct contact with the Free Syrian Army and associated forces, and provide them with a full range of assistance, including self-defense aid;

•Establish safe zones for civilians within Syrian territory; and

•Use limited retaliatory airstrikes against select Syrian military targets in order to protect the safe zones. . . .

U.S. foreign policy should not be contingent on the Kremlin’s approval, however. Russia has repeatedly blocked efforts by the U.N. Security Council to condemn the Assad regime and continues to oppose imposing a political transition upon the Assad regime.

FPI contends that “diplomatic” effort merely provide cover for Assad to continue his killing spree. FPI concludes:

Although the Obama administration has repeatedly demanded that the Syrian government end its mass murder of civilians, and that Assad step down from power—and has even noted the strategic importance of Assad’s departure—it has yet to implement a policy that achieves these goals. This is not so much a question of financial cost or diplomatic and military capabilities, but more a matter of political will.

During a news conference in March 2012, President Obama rightly said: “What’s happening in Syria is heartbreaking and outrageous.” But after months of continuing bloodshed, the President now faces a clear choice: stand with the Syrian people or continue to watch them brutally murdered by President Assad as he consolidates his grip on power

It would be one thing if the administration didn’t see a strategic benefit in ousting Assad. But it does. It would be one thing if it believed the region wouldn’t benefit from his ouster. But it does. It would be one thing if the president didn’t understand Assad’s fall would be a blow to Iran. But even he does. We’re not doing anything because Obama doesn’t want to, but because wants to win an election. I wonder what history and students of genocide will have to say about that. “Passively accepted mass murder of Syrians” is quite a line to have on one’s resume.