Cover: Talking to the Enemy

Talking to the Enemy

Track Two Diplomacy in the Middle East and South Asia

Published Aug 28, 2007

by Dalia Dassa Kaye


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This monograph examines regional, multilateral track two dialogues in the Middle East and South Asia that are focused on arms control and other cooperative security measures. Unofficial policy discourse, or track two diplomacy, is an increasingly important part of the changing international security landscape, with the potential to raise new ideas and solutions to conflicts that, over time, may influence official policy. Talking to the Enemy considers how track two efforts in South Asia and the Middle East have socialized participants into thinking about security in more cooperative terms, and whether the ideas generated in track two forums have been acknowledged at the societal level or influenced official policy. Comparing the two regions, Kaye finds that South Asian dialogues, on Kashmir and other regional issues, have been more somewhat more effective than track two efforts in the Middle East, where lack of progress on official Arab-Israeli peace talks has also hindered unofficial regional dialogues. The author concludes with assessments of regional security trajectories in both regions, particularly proliferation dynamics, as well as suggestions on how to improve future track two efforts.

"Kaye attempts to empirically assess the impact of unofficial or ‘track two'; diplomatic efforts on security perceptions and policy in the Middle East and South Asia. She offers a framework for understanding these efforts and improving them in the future."

- Survival, October/November 2008

"For those interested in the question of why countries in the Mideast and South Asia just can't seem to get along, this book not only discusses the problem but also offers a solution: ‘Track Two' Diplomacy … Policymakers, regional specialists, and academics are the primary targets of this work though it does provide some useful insights for military officers and others …This book provides some valuable conceptual underpinnings as well as specific case studies that might prove useful to many. Though its orientation is one of international policy, its concepts could easily be extrapolated to domestic, and even interpersonal, conflicts. Though it readily acknowledges the need for much more work, it certainly helps answer some keep questions about conflict resolution."

- Air Power History, Fall 2008

"Kaye has written a thorough, thoughtful analysis of track two diplomacy in the two most difficult areas to practice this craft: South Asia and the Middle East. She includes descriptions and comments on a number of such efforts in both regions, which will be invaluable to both scholar and professional negotiators. Her discussion of the roles for track two talks--socializing elites, making others' ideas one's own, and turning ideas into policies — would be useful in any negotiation course… Her suggestion that each region may learn from the tribulation of the other is arguably thoughtful. Her suggestions for improvement — expand the types of participants, create institutional support and mentors, and localize the dialogues — deserve further study. Summing Up: Recommended."

- CHOICE, May 2008

This research was conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center (ISDP) of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD). NSRD conducts research and analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Commands, the defense agencies, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Intelligence Community, allied foreign governments, and foundations.

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