Ted Galen Carpenter of The Cato Institute reflects in The American Conservative on lessons for Washington of the Georgia crisis:
"[I]t is ... likely that Russia’s strategic aims are modest, largely confined to its own neighborhood, and typical for a major power. Moscow’s actions also appear to be more defensive than offensive ... Russia’s actions in Georgia are not much different from the typical conduct of other great powers—including the United States—in their neighborhoods."
"The reality is that the United States can do little to protect vulnerable client states in Russia’s neighborhood—unless Washington is willing to risk a military confrontation with nuclear implications. That remains true even for clients such as the Baltic states, which are formal members of NATO."
"Russia may be capable of establishing a modest sphere of influence along its perimeter, but it does not have the strength to reconstitute the Soviet empire—much less pose an expansionist threat to the heart of Europe as the USSR did during the Cold War. American opinion leaders need to curb their alarmism. Moscow’s conduct in Georgia may have been brutal, but it is not out of the norm for a great power to discipline an upstart small neighbor. There is no credible evidence that Moscow has massive expansionist impulses. And even if it did, Russia lacks the power to achieve such goals. Russia is not the Soviet Union, and it certainly is not the equivalent of Nazi Germany. U.S. policymakers need to take a deep breath, accept that Russia has returned to the ranks of major powers, and realize that Washington can no longer ignore, much less trample on, core Russian interests."