With 260 reported dead by opposition figures (who, it should be noted, benefit from inflated death totals and cannot therefore be trusted completely), the latest phase in Syria’s slow motion civil war continues. The government can no longer run the country; the opposition cannot organize an alternative; the international community cannot make up its mind what to do: the killing goes on.The longer this goes on the worse the future looks. The Assads and their desperate, die-hard allies have deliberately worked to deepen sectarian divides in the hopes of rallying endangered minorities to their side. The bitterness and radicalization that results from the application of these tactics during a time of civil war historically leads to massacres and wars of revenge. That future for Syria — which would look much like Lebanon’s unhappy recent past — becomes more likely now every day that Assad clings to power.The best news in all this would appear to be the growing force of Arab public opinion behind the proposition that there are some things governments cannot do — even if those governments wave the tattered banner of Arab nationalism. Some of this feeling unfortunately reflects the force of Sunni sectarianism, but much of it reflects a healthy sense that governments must be held accountable and that rulers cannot simply do as they wish. Demonstrations against the Assad regime throughout the Arab world and beyond may, we can hope, be the landmarks of a new civic consciousness and respect for human dignity in Arab political culture.For Iran and Russia, these are grim days. Their isolation deepens as rage against their ally sweeps the world. Iran is about to lose its last ally in the Arab world even as Turkey draws away. Russia is emerging from the crisis looking neither principled nor popular nor strong. Its support for Assad has alienated a whole generation in the Arab world and deepened its isolation in Europe — but it hasn’t helped Assad very much. His regime continues to disintegrate despite Russian sales of jets and Russian threats at the Security Council. Russia can veto a resolution, but it cannot halt the disintegration of Syria on the ground.