Russia, Ukraine, Crimea – Six reasons why is this happening

Top six reasons why Russia is moving on Crimea, plus one observation:

1) Further erosion of post-Cold War order. The peace in the aftermath of the end of the Cold War has long passed. In fact, the collective memory of the Soviet Era has taken a rosy glow for leaders like Russia president Vladimir Putin who sees it a time when the Russians were potent and respected on the world stage, enough so that regaining some of that lost luster is a priority.

2) Russia understands and is comfortable with hard power, rather than softpower. The West’s rejection/mockery of the Sochi marketing effort no doubt underscores the futility of soft-power to Russia. Russia sees little downside to its action in Crimea. As James Goldgeier writes in the Washington Post, Obama scrapped his summit with Putin not just because of the Snowden affair but because there was “nothing to accomplish at the meeting.”

“Recently, U.S. officials suggested the pursuit of a common economic agenda might help build cooperation between the two countries – further illustrating what little shared interest remains,” he writes.

Continue reading

Japan and China’s national security – in wordclouds

There has been much talk about Japan’s new National Security Strategy and whether it, along with other changes being pushed through by Shinzo Abe’s government, represent a worrying return to the Japan’s militarist past or a normalization of the country after decades in which the nation’s broader defense questions were outsourced to allies. There is little in the NSS that hints at a radical departure from Japan’s pacifist principles  – however there is a recognition that, given the worsening security environment in the region, Japan can’t continue with the status quo.

Rather than rehashing the policy details, below is a visualization of Japan’s new NSS, using Wordle.  There are also some visualizations of statements from China on its national security committee for comparison – just to give a flavor of things.  The software used is Wordle.


By comparison, and it’s admittedly a rough one, here is a wordcloud from the text concerning China’s state security committee contained in the documents released during the Third Plenum. Obviously, this is an inexact match in part because Japan’s NSS is about ensuring security around Japan, while China’s state security committee is more focused on domestic security. Moreover, the full text of Japan’s document is available online, while China, in keeping with policy, has announced the change but has only given scant details.

Nonetheless, these are two developments from two nations that rival each other. So here is the wordcloud based on a Xinhua article about Xi Jinping, who is closely associated with the commission, expounding on its benefits.


Because the explanation is not like the policy document of Japan, I have also included a second document, which is a Xinhua article discussing the benefits of the committee.


Even if imperfect, the wordclouds reveal the all-consuming importance of ‘security’ to China while by font-size at least, ‘Japan’ is the biggest concern of the Japanese, only a smidge bigger than ‘security’ and ‘international’ -which does seem to get at the thrust of things. Japan says it’s national security strategy is in the context of an international framework and it faces outward to international affairs. China is more unilateral in its approach. The duties of its security commission are both domestic and international.