As wikipedia defines it, NATO "constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party."
Georgia is on Russia's border, and the US is actively trying to get it to join a US-led defence organization that sees Russia as the enemy. That's like Russia trying to get Canada or Mexico to join a Russian defence organization. But it's worse... it's like the third of Mexico that the US co-opted a hundred-odd years ago breaking off, forming its own republic, and then being encouraged by Russia to join a Russian defence organization... and doing so as part of a movement in which all nearby countries join with Russia.
This has been an ongoing problem. During the reunification of Germany, US president George HW Bush apparently promised Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand into eastern Europe. In May of this year, Gorbachev said, "the Americans promised that NATO wouldn't move beyond the boundaries of Germany after the Cold War but now half of central and eastern Europe are members, so what happened to their promises? It shows they cannot be trusted." Gorbachev added that US officials have even talked about needing more defence spending in case they need to go to war with Russia.
It seems like the current Bush government can't stomach the idea of having peaceful relations with Russia: they need to beat Russia down, provoke it, threaten it, surround it with US military allies.
Bush is the bully who doesn't realize that some people fight back.
Georgia is the kid stuck between the bully's fist and the target.
Meanwhile, Dick Cheney recently said that "Russian aggression must not go unanswered" and American news agencies like CNN seem to be whipping up support for US action against Russia. The international edition of CNN has been looping a segment about the military might of Russia versus the military weakness of Georgia, using emotional images of troops and equipment. Most US news outlets have been focusing on the carnage in South Ossetia and neglecting to explain why it's happening.
George Kaplan recently wrote in Slate, "Bush pressed the other NATO powers to place Georgia's application for membership on the fast track. The Europeans rejected the idea, understanding the geo-strategic implications of pushing NATO's boundaries right up to Russia's border. If the Europeans had let Bush have his way, we would now be obligated by treaty to send troops in Georgia's defense. That is to say, we would now be in a shooting war with the Russians."
The insane thing about Cheney's statement is that there is no conceivable exit strategy for US involvement that has a positive outcome for anyone. The Bush government wrongly assumes that it can use its military might to soundly trounce other countries and that will be that. Even Ronald Reagan knew that that sort of success is only possible in tiny places like Grenada.