Talking to the Enemy: Track Two Diplomacy in the Middle East and South Asia. By Dalia Dassa Kaye. Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 2007. Tables. Notes. Bibliography. Pp. xxv, 139. $25.00 Paperback (lower prices available for active duty members) ISBN: 978-0-83304191-3
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. Kaye defines this as any "unofficial activity that involves professional contacts among elites from adversarial groups with the purpose of addressing policy problems in efforts to analyze, prevent, manage, and ultimately resolve" conflicts. She then evaluates how such efforts can help in socializing participating elites, filtering this socialization into their respective countries, and then spurring policy changes that help resolve conflicts. In the process, she offers an assessment of how effectively these have been done in the regions cited.
This book has a clear policy-making focus. Policy makers, regional specialists, and academics are the primary targets of this work though it does provide some useful insights for military officers and others. Like most RAND texts, it summarizes the work in the first 30 pages. For most readers, the summary would probably be sufficient, as it very successfully captures the essentials of the text.
The author makes no pretense of this text being exhaustive and acknowledges that the natures of these regions vary dramatically thus meriting caution when extrapolating lessons. Nevertheless, she argues that each region has commonalities that might help in transferring successful Track Two initiatives between the two. These include "competitive and dangerous security environments" complete with terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Further, both regions exhibit some cultural barriers to confidence-building measures used successfully elsewhere. Finally, each region has a dominant power that resists international efforts to foster collective security: Israel and India respectively.
Kaye finds varying degrees of success in bringing about change through Track Two Diplomacy in these regions. The most obvious successes come through socialization. Wherever parties have developed a dialogue, greater understanding of actions and language has often followed. She cites both Israel/Egypt and India/Pakistan initiatives as examples. The filtering of such...