That said, a few bullet points:
- This war is an absolute tragedy and a potential disaster. Three Orthodox Christian peoples are going at it; this war, like many, was avoidable. Patriarch Alexey has said all the right things. It's time for the bishops to be prophetic.
- The meme of poor "democratic" Georgia slammed by the Russian bear is false. Russia was encouraging the Ossetians and the Abkhaz in their separatism, much as Europe and the U.S. nurtured Kosovo. But Georgia is no more or less democratic than Putin's Russia, and for all his U.S. education, Georgia's Saakashvili is an admirer of Stalin, Beria, and Gamsakhurdia.
- The Russians were ready to respond, but Georgia started the thing by trying to take and isolate South Ossetia's capital. She failed. Stupid move. When you shoot at a king, you must kill him.
- These events are partly payback for the foolish Euro-american Kosovo adventure. What goes around, comes around. Always.
- The big question is whether Russia will invade Georgia proper, as opposed to just bombing it, which is bad enough. This would be foolish. Georgia is a good place for partisan warfare, and the world, which will tolerate the Ossetian and Abkhaz adventures, especially after Kosovo, will be both frightened and angered by a full-scale attack on Georgia. A limited foray makes more sense.
- The "expansionist Russia" meme is unproven and probably false. The Russian Federation is in some ways a rump state of the old Soviet Union, and has an understandable and strong interest in its "near abroad," much as the U.S. does in the Caribbean and Central America. As Russia recovers from Yeltsin and profits from costly oil, she was bound to reassert herself.
- The U.S. policy of dishonoring these Russian interests, expanding NATO, supporting "color revolutions" and the like was reckless and foolish. It antagonized Russia and is proving unsustainable. Cozying up to Georgia militarily, holding out the carrot of NATO membership, but then blinking when the Russians call our bluff, was typical of the folly of this administration.
- Obama's cautious response, calling for diplomacy and a cease-fire, was a lot more sensible than McCain's fire-breathing. McCain (aka Col. Kong) is at his worst on the Russian question. Russia has thousands of nukes. A confrontational approach to a conflict in Russia's backyard is nuts. It almost makes me want to support the inexperienced, left-liberal metrosexual for the Presidency.
- The most dangerous political tendency in this country is the neocons. They are foaming at the mouth to defend every "democracy," screaming about 1938, and invoking the evil Russian bear. Suspicion of Russia is an old story in the U.S., and one must add to the mix the anti-Orthodox and anti-Slavic prejudices of many Jews (see "Borat"). They are prolific, they are organized, they are articulate, and the other tendencies--liberal internationalism, conservative "realism," and my personal view, patriotic anti-interventionism--are much less well-organized. This crisis has made me realize again, just how dangerous these people are.