Just occasionally I find newspaper commentators expressing my thoughts on a topical issue expressed almost exactly (and far better than I could have done.)
This applies to the article by Mark Almond in today's Guardian: 'Plucky little Georgia? No, the cold war reading won't wash'.
National/ethnic/border conflicts are usually complex and rarely have right all on one side. Yet, often prevailing left/liberal/democratic sentiment casts one side as the aggressor and the other as the victim. Closest to home this has been the case in Northern Ireland where Unionists were stereotyped as the bigoted oppressors and Nationalist claims to supercede sectarianism taken at face value.
The demonisation of the Serbs and the way in which the EU, following Germany's lead, uncritically supported the Slovenian and Croation bids for independence, contributed to the disastrous course of the Balkan wars.
In any situation where a minority ethnic group exists within one country, particularly if members of that group feel a degree of allegiance to a neighbouring country, the potential for conflict exists. No solution will ever be satisfactory to everyone.
The best option for the west in South Ossetia is to encourage the parties to make peace, and to avoid getting involved.