Often it seems that the Schleswig-Holstein question is moved to another location, but in practice the root of the problem lies with the old imperialist idea of being able to define a country and its peoples simply by drawing a line on the map.
The Europeans tried this in Africa, using rivers or rulers to define where one occupying power stopped and the next started. That the same tribe was on either side of the river; or that bitterly opposing tribes were forced together was of no concern. Administrative simplicity was all.
The end result has been bloodshed as the newly independent countries have tried to find a reason to be, and as tribal divisions and clan favouritism exacerbate the problems.
Of course, this is not restricted to Africa. The creation of Iraq as a British Protectorate at the behest of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in the 1920's was without thought to the views of the warring tribes who made up the new 'state'; and the consequences have been with us ever since.
Lenin is to blame for the situation in Ossetia, as the Russian Empire repeated the same mistakes of it's opponents.
The danger is that the issues are now so interlinked on a global stage that one decision can have so many repercussions that now, more than ever, care has to be taken in playing the Great Game of global politics.
The Russians opposed the independence of Kosovo as they were conscious of the burgeoning demands for independence in Ossetia, Abkhazia, Inghusetia and Nogorno-Karabakh to name just a few in the immediate area. Similar claims for independence will trouble politicians throughout the world as the independence movements in Tibet, Catalonia, Flanders and indeed in Scotland.
That is not to say that the independence movements should be either all supported or all rejected; each case is different, as the wannabe statelet of Transnistria amply demonstrates.
The response of the politicians is, frankly, pathetic. Georgia invaded/retook South Ossetia using what seems to be excessive force, and without justification - other than to take control of an autonomous part of the country - and Russia has defended/exploited the situation to try to gain influence in the area.
The UK and US are both condemning Russia for continuing to launch raids, but I have yet to anyone condemn Georgia for starting this whole war. Perhaps the fact that Georgia is a US client state may have something to do with this?
We appear to be supporting the aggressor and only getting involved when our friend realises that he is losing the fight.
No-one is right in what they are doing, and it needs to be stopped now, before it spreads. And that can only happen with an even-handed approach by the rest of the world.
The media need to get a grip on the seriousness of the events in Georgia.
The war seems to only focus on the radar by reference to the travel plans of the photogenic Katie Melua, as if somehow her presence (or absence) will be of consequence to the Kremlin. Apparently she was born in Georgia or perhaps in Armenia.
Google maps, in the meantime, seem to have the Russians operating in a different part of the Deep South.