As the Syrian army continues to bomb and attack civilian targets in Homs, and other towns and villages in Syria, killing children, men and women - against all the laws of war, international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians - statements of outrage are piling up, but no action.
Many commentators explain why the situation is so different to Libya, when the UN, at the request of the Arab League, agreed a no-fly zone initially to protect Benghazi from the sort of attack now seen against Homs. Some insist that all military interventions, including in Libya, are wrong. Some supported Libya but not action on Syria - the politics is complex, Iran is involved, the Syrian army is stronger, the opposition is more of a mess, the reasons, and excuses run on. Meanwhile, the US, UK, France and others so far make it clear that there will be no comparable intervention to protect civilians in Syria as there was in Libya.
And of course Russia and China vetoed the UN resolution, building on Arab League plans, to push for a peaceful transition in Syria.
Many actions are possible
But one big fallacy that seems to underpin all this is that if military intervention is not on the cards, nothing else is possible.
As the Syrian protests went on, peacefully on the demonstrators side for most of the last 10 months, the demonstrators were calling for their rights, rights to freedom of expression, rights to peaceful assembly, to protest, rights to have a say in how their lives are run, who is in power. And they were shot, tortured, wounded and killed for this. The EU and US moved slowly over that time towards a range of sanctions.
But now as the regime violence accelerates, brave reporters, and citizen journalists, are risking their lives to show the one-sided bombardment of civilians in Homs, almost nothing is happening.
True, there have been some strong words. President Obama has, rightly, called the bloodshed "outrageous". UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon has condemned the "appalling brutality" of the regime in Homs. The EU's foreign supremo, the little heard of Cathy Ashton, called on Russia to recognise "the reality of the situation on the ground." Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been one of the most proactive in the last 10 months, and Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, currently in Washington, is searching for actions. A few suggest the Arab League monitors, who so failed to stop this spiral into much much greater violence by the Syrian regime, should return.
But what is striking is that there seems so little sense of urgency. Are all these players truly rendered so impotent due to a Russian and Chinese veto?
Of course, we have seen inaction before - in the Rwandan genocide, in the massacres in Darfur, in the unnecessary years of conflict allowed to unfold in Bosnia before the West finally intervened and elsewhere. And we have seen political statements after the event - the adoption of the concept of a responsibility to protect, the establishment of the international criminal court, but none of this is seen by the main players as relevant in Syria, with some notable exceptions such as the UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay who has suggested the attacks may constitute crimes against humanity and should be taken to the international criminal court.
But why are the main players who say they care, who say this is outrageous, not visible and doing what they can to add to the pressure for at least a ceasefire in this criminal bombarding of Homs? Why aren't they demanding access for the red crescent and other humanitarian actors now? Shouldn't Ban Ki Moon be in Damascus demanding to see Assad? Couldn't he go there with Hilary Clinton, with Cathy Ashton, with Ahmet Davutoglu, with the Gulf state foreign ministers who withdrew their ambassadors from Syria? Why isn't Ban Ki Moon calling all these and others meeting together in an urgent summit, addressing the international media together, reminding the world - as well as Assad - of human rights, of international humanitarian law, of the existence of the international criminal court? Why aren't they demanding that a UN peacekeeping force is allowed in - even if it's main role would be to protect the Syrian people from their army, given the weakness of the armed Syrian opposition, the Free Syrian Army?
Instead what we see are uncoordinated statements, while all these players go about their other business - Ban Ki Moon issues a statement calling on the UK and Argentina to watch their war of words on the Falklands, Ashton talks about the role of the EU and Brazil in the world. There is talk of perhaps a special envoy, perhaps UN monitors going in with the return of the Arab League monitors - but where is the demand for the ceasefire that would allow this to happen, where is the political urgency to agree an envoy today, a joint mission tomorrow?
Does the absence of a UN resolution preclude these and other key actors acting as a group, putting Syria as their absolute top priority, and raising the pressure on Assad? One attempt at pushing things forward is the idea of a resolution at the UN General Assembly, which would sidestep the UN security council vetoes.
Yes it is clear that such actions are likely not to be enough - given Assad's willingness to proceed with violence akin to his father's even when it is covered across the world's media. But that is no reason not to do the maximum that internationally coordinated political demands and visits can do.
A few have suggested further actions that could help while not constituting a full military intervention. The Economist argues in an editorial for the creation of a safe haven, where at least some civilians could flee, where humanitarian aid could be brought in. It would not be enough, and it would be complex to establish but it would be a start. Some say but look at Bosnia and the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian men and boys in Srebenica despite it being a UN safe haven. But the UN's failure to defend a safe have once, doesn't mean that safe havens are of no use for ever more - and as the Economist says, a more effective example was the safe have for the Kurds in northern Iraq.
There are no perfect answers. But some things can be done and should be done with urgency, with priority. Assad, first and foremost is responsible for the attacks on civilians. Russia and China are responsible for undermining UN attempts to increase pressure on Assad. But Obama, Ban Ki Moon, Ashton, Erdogan, and other EU and Arab leaders in particular are responsible for whether they act together, loudly, with stopping the violence as a priority or whether they continue to sit on their hands.