The sudden war in the Caucasus brought Georgia to heel, reasserted Russia’s claim as the dominant force in the region, and dealt a blow to U.S. prestige. But in this part of the world, diplomacy and war are about oil and gas as much as they are about hegemony and the tragic loss of human life. Victory in Georgia now gives Russia the edge in the struggle over access to the Caspian’s 35 billion barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of gas. The probable losers: the U.S. and those Western oil companies that have bet heavily on the Caspian as one of the few regions where they could still operate with relative freedom.It’s a global market for these fossil fuels. American over-consumption plays a role (not the only role, of course, and sometimes not a leading role; but a role nonetheless) in every one of these energy-related power plays. Our first responsibility is to get ourselves out of Iraq, but we’ve got responsibilities beyond that. Time to transition.