Stratfor has been warning for some time now that the Russians were not going to sit still for the steady eastward push of NATO, and would be striking back to preserve their hegemony in what they regard as their "Near Abroad." Unfortunately, they've been proved correct, in spades.
Thomas Barnett weighs in with the following excellent strategic caution:
"Again, you can say, 'Who the hell are these guys!' But a lot of the world says the same about us regarding Southwest Asia (the Middle East)--a place a lot more important strategically to the entire world than the Caucasus. So go easy on that one.
"Also go easy on wanting to ramp up strategic conflict with Russia. It's certainly a familiar emotion for a lot of us over 40, but you have to ask yourself, 'Where are we going with this, given everything else we're trying to achieve right now?'
"Admittedly, Russia does enough bad stuff and Moscow can certainly get itself right back on top of our strategic planning pile, but we're a long ways from that and I don't anticipate that being the ultimate message that Putin seeks to send here.
"Instead, we're going to have to figure out something a whole lot more sophisticated than simply resurrecting the Cold War plot line."
I love Barnett's ability to do the high-level strategic view, because I find it so difficult myself to keep that cool analytical mode going at times like these.
Politically, I think Obama's both sides are at fault sentiments as originally expressed were ridiculous, and his follow-ups not more impressive. McCain always gets tagged as the loose cannon, but his outrage is perfectly justified here, and Russia might want to ask itself if its actions will help elect McCain? Clearly, as per this excellent Tigerhawk post, the Russians prefer Obama even to the extent of seemingly coordinating their statements with him.
The bottom line is this: we certainly are not going to be able to stop Russia from doing what it pleases here, short of a willingness to go to war with them.
Given that we're clearly not going to be doing that, I feel much more confident that a President McCain will show Russia there is a big price to be paid for this sort of behavior. More and more, Obama shows he's looking to step into President Carter's shoes, and that's a movie I saw once before in my lifetime and have no desire to see a second time.