Great commentary on Georgia by Alan Bock.
"I rather like a simplified version of the distinction, to the effect that patriotism is love of one's own country or place while nationalism is hatred of or hostility toward some other country or place. Some might also link patriotism to responsibility, in that a patriot loves his country enough to recognize and want to correct its shortcomings, while a nationalist either recognizes no faults (and insists that anyone who does is a traitor) or constructs elaborate justifications for whatever his or her government has done in his or her name. One might note also that patriotism is peaceful until forced into defending oneself, while nationalism is forever spoiling for a fight..."
"it isn't all that clear who the bad guys or aggressors were here. Just as Georgia sees Russia as the neighborhood bully, the smaller separatist provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia see Georgia as the neighborhood bully, and for reasons rooted in history and ethnicity, among other factors, they prefer (at least significant majorities do) to be more closely associated with Russia, perhaps even to be part of Russia..."
"However, who rules South Ossetia is hardly a core U.S. interest, so there was no sensible reason for the U.S. to intervene – and besides, it had no way to do so. All the blustering without any concrete way to punish Russia only made Bush and McCain (and to some extent Obama) look silly and exposed how helpless a giant the overstretched imperial power is. And to have the invader of Iraq moralizing about invading sovereign countries? I suspect Bush is so self-righteous he didn't even notice a contradiction..."
A Familiar Enemy - by Alan Bock