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Old Wednesday, November 15, 2006
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Post Track II diplomacy

Track II diplomacy


Track II diplomacy is a specific kind of informal diplomacy, in which non-officials (academic scholars, retired civil and military officials, public figures, and social activists) engage in dialogue, with the aim of conflict resolution, or confidence-building. This sort of diplomacy is especially useful after events which can be interpreted in a number of different ways, both parties recognize this fact, and neither side wants to escalate or involve third parties for fear of the situation spiraling out of control. For example, a Chinese general recently commented that atomic bombs are not out of the question if the PRC and the United States should engage in low-level conflict over the Taiwan question. If the US immediately responded with heavy press coverage and speeches by major officials, the PRC would then be forced to take either of two stances:

(1) admission that the general was incorrect, which would inflame the Chinese population and cause grassroots ire and anti-American feeling, or

(2) claim that the general was correct, which would be detrimental to world peace and diplomatic relations. Instead, the US would engage in Track II diplomacy to try to understand whether the initial threat was as serious as it seemed to be. Dialogue would be deliberately invited in order to determine the stance of the PRC without creating a confrontational atmosphere.

Although Track II diplomacy may seem less important than Track I (the work of actual diplomats at their embassies), it is many times far more important. Indeed its informal nature often reflects the fact that the issues in question are of deadly seriousness. In the above situation, the United States would at least ask that the other side clearly demonstrate their understanding that they were the ones to make the initial threat, even if no apology was eventually deemed necessary by either side.

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Last edited by Xeric; Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:14 AM.
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