Stephen Walt posted this column, and question, a week ago and I read it with interest. Going back to take another look, I was taken with a few points, one apropos of Admiral John McCain's current visit to Syria.
"The Obama administration may secretly welcome the repeated demands for direct U.S. involvement made by war hawks like Sen. John McCain. Rejecting the hawks' demands for airstrikes, "no-fly zones," or overt military aid makes it look like U.S. involvement is actually much smaller than it really is."
Walt's over-all speculation, and he says it's speculation, is that the U.S. is more deeply involved than publicly acknowledged. Furthermore, he sees the Administration's crackdown on leakers as part of an over-all strategy to keep our involvement out of the news.
Walt's other major point: "For Washington, this war has become a golden opportunity to inflict a strategic defeat on Iran and its various local allies and thus shift the regional balance of power in a pro-American direction."
UPDATE 5/29: An emerging story: What are Russia and Israel doing in Syria? Russia's promise/threat to send the S-300 air defense system to Syria has brought on a war hoop from Israel Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon, who says they will destroy the system if it's delivered. Let's hope they're both playing chicken hawk. Details at Juan Cole. Pat Lang wonders if this is the beginning of WWIII with a link to a solid Reuters' story.