As far as I can tell, the following are all true:
1. South Ossetia has, it seems, closer historical and current ties with Russia than it does with Georgia. Over half the population of South Ossetia are Russian citizens.
2. Russian peacekeepers are in South Ossetia due to the agreement reached the last time there was a conflict between Georgia and the Ossetians.
3. South Ossetia has been a de facto autonomous state for over a decade.
5. Georgia started the conflict by sending troops into South Ossetia.
6. Russia, defending its interests and citizens in the region, sent in more troops to support the peacekeeping forces already in South Ossetia.
7. The Russians defeated the Georgians pretty thoroughly.
Now, perhaps someone can explain something to me here. How is it that Georgia invades an area that is historically and culturally distinct from Georgia, that has been de facto autonomous for quite some time,
Is there some inability had by people who lived much of their lives during the Cold War to realize that the political situation in the Caucasus is different than it was before the fall of the Soviet Union? Am I only able to see the absurdity of the "Oh nos, teh Russian are moving, wesa gots ta do sumting!!!!" line of thought because the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union fell before I was even a teenager?
Is it because Russia is not as democratic as we think it should be? Democracy is not and has never been the criteria for legitimate government.
And why are the events happening in the Caucasus any of our business? There is a chance that Russia has acted as it did because it resents the US trying to get all the countries along its border, countries that Russia has had long political interests and involvement with, stretching back to before the Soviet Union and into the Russian Empire, into NATO. Why, oh why would Russia feel threatened by US troops and missiles all along its borders? Is that really a difficult question to answer?
Moreover, why does NATO still exist? The Soviet Union fell, it has served its purpose. What can it do now but antagonize Russia and make it more likely that US troops will die for no good reason? Why do we need to be so involved in the Caucasus anyway? How does this protect American citizens? The job of a government is to look after the common good of its citizens, not to police the world and spread democracy as if it was the only legitimate form of government.
Look, lets be clear: Georgian President Saakashvili is the one who foolishly started the shooting. Did he really expect Russia to not respond? There is a price to folly, and, while his foolishness does not absolve Russia of overreaching in this conflict and violating ius in bello, it does make it difficult for me to view Georgia as a blameless victim of Russian imperialism.
That being said, please pray for peace and reconciliation between these two Orthodox peoples. And toss up a few for Christian unity while you're at it.
A clarification on my position, since discussion elsewhere have demonstrated that it is needed:
1. There are historic, ethnic and cultural reasons to view South Ossetia's desire to secede from Georgia and rejoin North Ossetia as part of the Russian federation as a legitimate desire.
2. Georgia escalated this conflict into full-scale military action, and it did so not hours after it declared a unilateral cease-fire and offered to meet with Ossetian leaders with full autonomy for South Ossetia on the table.
3. Russia's response to the death of civilians and Russian troops legitimately stationed in South Ossetia may have been justified based upon my first point--it may have had a legitimate ius ad bello--but its disproportional response was unjust and a violation of ius in bello.
4. There are no good guys here.
5. The fact that there are no good guys here makes placing all moral blame in Russia's hands, as the Western media has certainly seemed to do, an act of untruth, if not an act of outright lying.
EDIT, part deux:
Pat Buchanan lays it out nice and simply.
EDIT the third:
Dr. Trifković's analysis may be the best I've seen.