President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared this morning the dictator of Damascus Bashir al-Assad must go for ordering his army and secret police to butcher more than 1,800 Syrian men, women and children who long for freedom.
The United States gave Assad more time and opportunities to clean up his act and embrace democratic reforms than most of the other big-name despots of the pro-democracy revolutions of the Arab Spring. The U.S. put in place the toughest sanctions to date along with the call for Assad to step down.
"The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashir al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people," Obama said in statement.
"We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside," Obama added.
Clinton explained that the U.S. has meticulously assembled a global chorus of opposition made up of Arab, Islamic and Western Nations in calling for the Assad regime to step down. Clinton signaled the U.S. strategy earlier this week when she said it would have done little good for the U.S. to act unilaterally.
"It is not going to be any news if the United States says Assad needs to go," she said. "OK, fine, what's next? If other people say it, if Turkey says it, if (Saudi) King Abdullah says it, there is no way the Assad regime can ignore it," Clinton said this week at a joint appearance at the National Defense University with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
"I think this is smart power, where it is not just brute force, it is not just unilateralism," she said. "It is being smart enough to say you know what we want a bunch of people singing out of the same hymn book and we want them singing a song of universal freedom, human rights, democracy, everything that we have stood for and pioneered over 235 years."
The demand that Assad resign comes as NATO and the Libyan rebels appear to be close to toppling the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.