The thoughts of a former expert on the former Soviet Union—that would be me, to crib a line from geopolitical guru Thomas Barnett—about the Russian invasion of Georgia:
1) It would be great if clarity came cheap. Sometimes it does, but often it doesn't. In our liberation of Iraq, for instance, late realization about troop strength and strategy cost us men, money, and the opportunity to more easily advance our foreign policy goals everywhere from North Korea to Iran to Venezuela. Now we all have clarity about the nasty nature of Putin's Russia (though I hope experts like Secretary Rice aren't surprised), just as 9/11 gave us the full matrix about the true reality of the world we live in. It will be democratic Georgia, however, paying the price this time.
2) There's a big long-term positive in all this. We also now have greater clarity on the need to dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil. As fast as possible without ruining the economy. It's "all of the above" time, gang—domestic drilling, nukes, concentrated solar, deep geothermal, clean coal, and whatever else Silicon Valley and heroic capitalists everywhere can dream up as we conduct a market-driven transition to a post-hydrocarbon economy. Now the inside-the-beltway types tend to pooh-pooh all this, as if anyone suggesting energy independence is an isolationist, nativist rube who wants to turn America into Juche North Korea. But why they would want to risk the American economy potentially held hostage to, say, a couple of oil pipelines running through Soviet-occupied—I mean, Russian-occupied—Georgia is baffling to me.