I thought I would talk briefly about the current situation in Georgia/South Ossettia between Georgia and Russia. The news seems to be ignoring the critical aspect of this situation--that it is a symptom of the larger issue of the decline of the Nation-State.
In a recent diary entry, Jerome a Parils makes a good point that neither side here has any claim to a "moral high ground"--this isn't an issue of principle about supporting territorial integrity or supporting a national group, but rather an issue of realpolitik. It's also been building for quite some time. Stratfor has been screaming about the impending war in Georgia for years (they must be quite pleased to sound less like they've been crying wolf right now). I wrote about Georgia in the context of enveloping Central Asia's resources by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization back in 2006. The US has long maintained a sizable signals intelligence ground station in Georgia, and has been advising Georgia on fighting Islamist rebels in the Pankisi Gorge region. This is something to watch for--one angle the US may use to argue the moral high ground approach is that they need to ensure the "territorial integrity" of Georgia in order to deny a training ground to Islamist "terrorists" in the Pankisi Gorge (sound familiar?).
It's also important to ground what's happening in Georgia in the larger context of the decline of the Nation-State system. I wrote and presented a paper about this at the 2006 Yale Journal of International Law conference which some people may find worth reading, and highly recommend Philip Bobbitt's "Shield of Achilles" for an in-depth look at the topic. The basic issue is not that the "state" is going away, but that the constitutional basis of a "state" in providing for the welfare of a contiguous "nation" is increasingly invalid, leading to the rise of the "market-state" (where the constitutional basis for the state comes from its ability to provide market opportunity to those within its borders) and a growing conflict with disenfranchised and marginalized nations (and other non-state groups) that exist wholly or partially within the borders of the new market-state.
This "market-state"/"nation" conflict is the new lever of choice in the new "great game." Where it serves Russia's interest, they will support a non-state "national" group against the integrity of a "market-state" (Georgia). Where it is against their interest, they will support the "market state" (here, Russia) against separatist "national" groups (e.g. Chechnya, Dagestan, and a dozen other internal problems--Siberia, for example, has some serious separatist problems). Similarly, the US will support the "market-state" where it must (as in Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan, etc.) and will support non-state "national" groups where it serves its interest (Kosovo, the Ahwaz rebels in the Iranian province of Khuzestan where most of Iran's oil is, the Baluch rebels in the East of Iran, but not the same rebels in the SW of Pakistan, etc.). Where this "market-state"/"national" conflict overlaps with key resource production or exportation infrastructure, look for increasing problems, in part because the conflict between nations and state will intensify, and in part because growing resource scarcity will make resource infrastructure an increasingly popular and effective target within the context of these struggles...
Just for context, here is the route of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline that connects Caspian Sea oil with the West (it was also bombed, probably, last week by Kurdish separatists in Turkey, so is currently shut down):
Russia also bombed the trunk pipeline from the BTC and associated export port to Georgia's black sea coast, thereby requiring all Azerbaijani oil to transit Russia. Before this bombing, a portion of the oil carried by the BTC could have been re-directed via the Black Sea without transiting Russia: