Reading this it occurs to me that I believe the Bush administration has handled the Russo-Georgian War and its aftermath about as well as could have possibly been asked for.
This is an extraordinarily delicate and complex situation that would bedevil anyone at State or the White House. After so many cheap episodes of bungling and recrimination, which will tarnish this administration with the funk of 40,000 years, getting from Friday last to this Friday in the condition we appear to be in seems like almost a miracle. And it seems that Condi Rice bears most of the responsibility for it.
The humanitarian intervention, to me, seems like exactly the right thing to do -- complete without any guarantees of defense or protection. Georgia must understand that war with Russia is so unacceptably catastrophic that it will not be risked, especially after the fact of the main combat...and Russia must understand, as I suspect it does, that the US is bending over backwards to give them a big pass on an ugly business, because at bottom this is a structural problem with Georgian sovereignty that couldn't be resolved by peaceful means.
In the main, then, I hew pretty closely to Ross's position, though -- and I really don't mean this just to be idiosyncratic -- I think the downside of having Georgia in NATO diminishes vastly if that Georgia is pruned of its rebel provinces and at permanent peace with Russia. That doesn't mean I'm going to be a booster and advocate of Georgian NATO membership at some future date, but it won't appall me on principle like it wound up doing this past time around. It may be inevitable now that, long term, the security guarantee will drop out of the NATO equation. That's unattractive in some fundamental way, yet it may be necessary to plugging the weird and destabilizing gaps between the Western alliance and Russia...and an intimation of a certainty, which I keep in a cool, dark place, that Russia, one day, ought to be a member, too.
If the basic original framework and purpose of NATO has already been abandoned, which it has for some time, and if it's now unrecoverable, which looks certain, and if NATO will not die or dissolve itself, a third virtual certainty, then we've got to start thinking about ways to take it on a new trajectory without dooming us all by trying to carry on useless vestiges of the old operation. This may result in some loopy ideas, but it also strikes me as a main requisite of a 21st-century foreign policy that seeks to lay claim to any prudence and foresight at all.