The Sound of Silence: Power, Secrecy, and International Audiences in U.S. Overseas Military Basing Negotiations
Brown, Jonathan Nathan
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This dissertation poses two basic questions: (1) Under what conditions are leaders more or less likely to publicly acknowledge cooperative security negotiations or to pursue talks secretly? (2) What impact does this decision have on leaders' subsequent bargaining behavior and their overall prospects of achieving cooperation? To answer these questions, I develop a realist-inspired theoretical framework that advances two main arguments about leaders' management of national security information. First, international audiences - namely, third-party states - rather than domestic audiences often constitute the principal targets of official secrecy and public acknowledgement. Second, leaders' control of information is shaped primarily by the international strategic context and the scope of their states' national security interests rather than domestic political incentives and institutions. My central claim and finding is that states' power positions in the international system fundamentally influence not only the way that leaders control information during cooperative security negotiations but also the impact that information management has on leaders' subsequent willingness to make concessions during talks and their likelihood of reaching an agreement. I evaluate these arguments empirically by studying leaders' control of information during negotiations for foreign military base rights. Based on extensive archival research, I have constructed an original comprehensive dataset of 218 negotiation rounds and 59 agreements for U.S. overseas base rights during 1939 - 1971. I use this dataset to test seven novel hypotheses through rigorous statistical analyses that produce strong support for my argument about international power position and strategic context while systematically controlling for the effects of important domestic political factors. Additional support comes from rich historical examples and comparative case studies based primarily on declassified government records that illustrate the causal processes underlying each of the main quantitative findings.