I write shortly after rolling out of bed, awakened at far too unripe an hour by my children. Nonetheless, we will soon be readying ourselves for Liturgy. As our parish includes both a decent contingent of Russians, and a sizable contingent of Georgians from the wider area, given the intensifying conflict between the two nations, I anticipate two possible scenarios in addition to the proper one of everyone attending to the transcendent proceedings of the Liturgy and minding his own political business otherwise: either there will be some tension between the contingents, conditioned by the relative cosmopolitanism of the Russians, most of whom are American citizens grateful in most respects for the opportunity to depart the uncertainties of the Motherland, and the fervent patriotism/nationalism of the Georgians - or the Georgians will all remain home, endeavouring to receive news from home and to establish contact with relatives. My prayers, with those of the Orthodox Patriarchs of Georgia and Russia, are for a speedy resolution of the conflict.
For those interested in commentary on the unfolding conflict, one can do no better than to peruse Daniel Larison's extensive coverage of the journalistic and political responses and apologetical maneuvers, all concerning a conflict which, despite the frothing of demented Russophobes, Cold War nostalgics, blinkered utopians, tendentious hegemonists, and selective enthusiasts for the Great Game of Petroleum Geopolitics, implicates no legitimate American interest.
America imprudently extended security assistance to a small nation with no connection to any vital American strategic interest, primarily as an element of a grand geopolitical strategy in which a non-prostrated Russia does not factor, and in which, as many current Western commentators are openly acknowledging, the control of Central Asian petroleum resources does factor, notwithstanding the manifest fact that Western dependence upon Russian petroleum reserves, and the reserves of Russian-allied states, cannot be mitigated substantially, let alone eliminated, so long as Russia remains an intact and functional state. American strategists cannot abide the commonsensical observation that patriotism means that citizens of other nations love their countries as much as we love ours, and labour under the delusions of exceptionalism and indispensability, not to mention the truly bizarre assumption that, if not for various false consciousnesses, citizens of other nations would be delighted to dwell under our tutelage and dominion.
Moreover, it is worth noting that the Russian campaign on behalf of South Ossetia is incontrovertibly the former's prophesied response to the West's world-historical blunder in facilitating the independence of Kosovo: the United States cannot logically traduce the international order of sovereign states at will, and then turn about to demand that other great powers respect that order where it both suits the declared interest of the U.S. for them to do so, but suits the interests of those powers to modify that order (It is worth mentioning, for what it is worth, that the status quo in South Ossetia simply was de facto autonomy from Georgia), and it is loathsome to listen to Bush administration officials, and John McCain, one of whose advisers was until recently a lobbyist for the Georgian government, prattle on about the sovereignty of Georgia. Yes, yes, we understand all of that. Now, hegemonists, heal yourselves!
Bottom line: shades of grey, and no legitimate and objective American interest. The outstanding questions concern how America, which has Georgia crawling with military, diplomatic, and intelligence officials, could have been caught unawares by the preparations, on the part of all involved parties, for the present hostilities. Perhaps they were simply so naive as to believe that they needn't have prioritized their geopolitical objectives, that they could indeed have their cake and eat it too, such that, regardless of 'transient' increases in regional tensions, the "logic of history" was on their side. That prospect is all too probable, and all too terrifying, signifying that our establishment is incapable of learning from history, even recent history; they learn nothing, but forget no grudges.