Your editorial "No way out for Syria" (Jan. 24) catalogs a lot of facts about the bloody turmoil that engulfs Syria today. The editorial notes the disinclination of practically any party involved to act forcefully – apart from the Syrians risking their lives every day to oppose the tyranny of the Bashar Assad regime. But as one might expect in an editorial, it makes no recommendation. Moreover, it fails to explain why none of the interested parties is acting to punish Assad and his cronies for a blood-letting that is exceeded only by the blood-letting Bashar's father, Hafez, wrought on his own people.

The number of Syrians killed in the uprising so far is estimated at 5,400, greater than the total death toll in all of the countries where the so-called Arab Spring has erupted except for Tunisia, where the death toll is estimated to have totaled some 30,000. Is 30,000, or something approaching that number, the benchmark for requiring genuine action to protect the citizens of a country?

Why has the Arab League been so ineffective in its mission in Syria? Because the most powerful members of the Arab League are states that have good reason to fear the Arab Spring might challenge them. Saudi Arabia comes to mind here, not because it fears its Shi'ite minority so much, but because it fears its own Sunni majority and that population's growing unhappiness with the Wahabist fanaticism controlling much of their lives.

Why is the Gulf Cooperation Council so ineffective? Because it, too, consists of six member countries all ruled by essentially unelected monarchies with good reason to fear real democracy.

And why do Russia and China persist in resisting attempts to advance genuine democracy anywhere? Probably this has less to do with such things as multibillion dollar military deals between Russia and Syria (which Syria can hardly afford to pay for and probably won't) than with the realization in Moscow and in Beijing that successful capitalism is not the happy hand-maiden of genuine democracy.

Israel and the United States are not mentioned in your editorial, but one might ask why these self-proclaimed paragons of world and regional democracy aren't clamoring for more forceful action to bring down the Assad regime. Could this be because the United States' most treasured ally in the Middle East, Israel, does not want a change in the status quo that has enabled it to continue to occupy and illegally colonize the Syrian Golan Heights with impunity?

Up to now, both Jerusalem and Washington seem to agree, as you conclude, that "it's difficult to see what the alternatives are" with respect to Syria. No wonder young Assad is digging in his heels.

G. J. Price III, Glyndon