...this is part of the long pay-back for Kosovo. When Russia was strong-armed on the UN Security Council into accepting Kosovan independence, they made it clear that the precedent would ring out in the Caucasus and indeed any where else the Russians want to destabilize. Again, the rights and wrongs of springing Kosovo free of the Serbs can be argued, and so can the means of doing it. But the outcome is that Russia believes it has a free hand to prop up Russian or other minority nationalities anywhere geopolitically convenient within its Near Abroad.
It's sad that the same sovereignty fetish that made the West want to recognize Kosovo is also what motivated Georgia to try and retake the areas of Georgia that had been semi independent:
For those thinking that Georgia is 100% in the right (from the same link above):
Georgians are intensely nationalistic, and viewed these de facto states on their border as an intolerable violation of sovereignty. Mr. Saakashvili cashed in on this deep sense of grievance, vowing to restore Georgia’s “territorial integrity.”
The Abkhaz talk about the Georgians pretty much the same way that the Georgians talk about the Russians. On that point, the Abkhaz share much with the South Ossetians. For them, as for the Ossetians, Georgia is the neighborhood bully.Not that I have much any idea what to do about it all. I don't think having a lobbyist for Georgia's government on McCain's payroll is a great idea though.
UPDATE: I'm reading that Georgians took encouragement from Bush too seriously as one reason for their quick strike into Ossetia. Shades of Bush 41. (And in this case, the Russians might have taken Putin's mastery of Bush as a reason not to hesitate on their side).
UPDATE 2: For what it's worth, I'd support a quick membership for Georgia in NATO, but only with mutual self defense obligations starting outside of the two disputed provinces and south of wherever Russian forces are when the treaty's signed. Russia can (unofficially) keep what it's taken; they just can't take any more. Given that their presence is likely popular in South Ossetia and Abkhazia but would be an occupier in Georgia proper, it's not the worst of outcomes.