With the advent of the situation in Georgia, I've been doing a lot of research and thus haven't had time to get back here for a few days.
First things first - as a retired, but now soon to be reenlisted soldier - I'm a news junkie.
Call it an occupational hazard, call it an addiction, call it a survival trait, makes zero difference, but the fact is that the more intel (information and facts) you have about ANY subject, the more likely you are to handle it correctly.
Accept no substitutes.
Facts to understand about Georgia v. Russia:
NOBODY knows ALL the reasons why putin (don't delude yourself about Medvedev - he's a sock puppet) decided to snatch South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia (the timing isn't too hard to figure), but some things are too obvious to ignore;
1. When the old USSR was layin' out boundaries for their "Socialist Republics", it was - to the Politburo - a handy little trick to take some of the hundreds of small ethnic areas (the old bear had well over 250 recognized "minorities" back in the day) and slash a "state border" right through the middle of 'em, splitting them for easier "management" - that's why there's a "North" Ossetia just across the border in Russia;
2. The political hacks in Moscow - yeah, they're a pernicious species, found in EVERY capital - made it a policy to issue Russian passports to the people in SOUTH Ossetia (care to guess why?);
3. There's a Palistinian trick of placing military targets cheek-and-jowl - or actually in the middle of - civilian populations (put on your cynical hat and guess why THAT is), and the Russians made that a policy in South Ossetia;
4. When the Союз Советских Социалистических Республик dis-unionized itself back in 1991, it didn't sit well with the comrades that were "more equal" than the others, with particular grudges against the larger and richer former republics like Ukraine and Byelorus, not to mention a whole mess of the smaller ones with "fortunate geography" like the Baltic (Sea) states of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania....and Georgia on the Black Sea;
5. How many people know that 1% of the WORLD'S petroleum flows through a BP-owned pipeline from the Caspian states to the Black Sea....through Georgia?
There's literally dozens of other factors involved, but just those five should be enough to start fleshing out the intel analysis.
Add to that the fact that Russia is the largest single supplier of petroleum and natural gas to Europe, and ALL the petro-companies in Russia are nationalized (the government - meaning putin - controls them).
Next, consider putin's past actions of demonstrating that he can AND WILL turn off those supplies in the middle of winter.
The logistics are also relevant (as always), since you don't just roll a division's-worth of troops and equipment out of the motor park at the drop of a stray mortar round. All the ash and trash it takes to keep those troops supplied doesn't just magically appear because they click their heels and wish three times.
Gettin' a clearer picture, yet?
What the ol' Soviet Bear couldn't accomplish with nukes and tanks and troops, a newer, slicker Russian Bear is attempting to do with petroleum and natural gas.
In this age where EVERY-DAMNED-BODY ON THE PLANET (excepting possibly some tribes in Borneo and the upper Amazon basin) is utterly dependent on petroleum and it's by-products (look at PLASTIC computer you're reading these words with), consider the following list:
1. Saudi Arabia
6. United Arab Emirates
11. United States
That's the top twelve proven reserves of petroleum on the planet.
How many of them could be considered our "friends"?
....and look at the pelosi/reid fiasco in Congress before you include #11 as a "friendly".
So, just how far-fetched is it for putin to grab some very real influence in the EU without having to cross the Polish border - not to mention sending an incredibly unsubtle message to the other "breakaway" republics?
Guess who's supplying Mom-mooed Ahma-WhackJob and the MadMullahs in Tehran with all their shiny new glow-in-the-dark toys?
(Hint: it's the same people who turned Lebanon's Bek'a Valley into the Ivy League of terrorist training schools in the last century.)
So the next time some liberalite punk starts spewing their "no blood for oil" mantra, don't even bother trying to explain all this to them - they have neither the attention span nor the grasp of logic required to wrap their heads around anything more intellectually involved than a bumper sticker.
Don't even bother with the desperately obvious: "Where's their precious U.N. on this?"
Just ask 'em one question: Why do THEY think the Russians invaded Georgia?
...try not to strangle them when they blame it on Bush, then ask if you think the fighting might delay flights out of Atlanta........
(the irony of that cartoon above is that Stalin was born in Gori, Georgia.)