In late June, in the course of observing aid to the refugees, I visited the Azaz displaced persons camp on the Syrian side of the Syrian-Turkish border. The sun-baked rows of tents march away in the dust.
At 104 in the shade, life's fortunes are reduced to whether a tent happens to be in the shelter of an old concrete hangar. Here, thousands wait forlornly for the chance to enter Turkey.
The immensity of death, flight and destruction in Syria, with these refugees being among the more fortunate flotsam, has not been a natural catastrophe.
The all-encompassing criminality of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the clique around him remain the central reality of the evolution in Syria since 2011.
Unfortunately, this truth has been obscured by the impetus in the West to equalize parties to conflicts and indulge virtually any self-serving narrative or conspiracy theory. The West can thereby walk away from what has become the crime of the 21st century.
Syrian regime criminality and responsibility have multiple dimensions, but three can serve as illustration.
First, there was the regime's initial determination to respond to unarmed protests with terror, torture and mass murder.
According to none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking in June, "what is happening would not have happened" had Assad not spurned serious reform.
Second, having given the opposition no choice but armed resistance, the regime escalated the violence by using every level of heavy weaponry and did so for months, overwhelmingly against defenseless civilians. Use of long-range ballistic missiles against its own people was a historic first.
Human rights organizations have been unanimous about the regime's unrelenting perpetration of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
While misdeeds by jihadists and others - often atrocious - are not excused, opposition war crimes have been of far lesser scale.
Third, the regime has stoked the fires of radical Sunni Islamism.
Of course jihadist sentiments already existed, and the Assad regime played its part before 2011 in manipulating them to trouble Lebanon and Iraq.
Their inflation, however, relates above all to the regime's military assaults in 2012 and 2013 that have pushed provincial, rural and suburban Sunni Arab Syrians to the wall.