Why Do We Do Track Two?: Transnational Security Policy Networks and U.S. Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy
Lennon, Alexander Thomas Jacobson
Steinbruner, John D
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As globalization has accelerated, unofficial transnational (a.k.a. track-two) dialogues have proliferated. Do these networks matter? This study examines both their effects in the United States and, by focusing on nuclear nonproliferation, their potential to improve cooperative security as well as conflict resolution. Reviews of relevant theory, secondary literature, and primary materials produced by three case studies--the Council on Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP), the Northeast Asian Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD), and the Program on New Approaches to Russian Security (PONARS)--supplemented and guided 67 original interviews to help answer the question: Have transnational security policy networks changed U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policies or the perceptions that shape them? These networks have improved intelligence and private as well as public diplomacy, enhancing the analytical capacity and soft power of their participants and interlocutors. They have strengthened otherwise weak ties across countries, areas of expertise, generations, and professions, particularly from inside government to nongovernmental experts, to provide blunter feedback and improve open-source intelligence analysis. These improvements are three-dimensional--delving deeper into overseas foreign policy elite, integrating across wider issues and regions, over longer periods of time--to help understand the implications of political changes, summits, and crises. Diplomatically, they have provided fora for nongovernmental experts and government officials in their private capacity to better understand and convey interests behind official talking points. Although U.S. policymakers will realistically rarely participate, they benefit from one-page or personal briefings by the most effective networks--those that have diverse members, integrate current or former government officials, and focus on ideas and information exchange. Although pressures exist to prove networks changed near-term policy decisions, the diversity that improves intelligence also impedes consensus on policy recommendations, which can be more effectively made by issue-specific cells derived from the network base. Ultimately, these networks empower their members and interlocutors with ideas and information, which enhances their soft power and builds their capacity to diagnose and agree on the root causes of contemporary threats, understand the political pressures shaping national responses to them, evaluate the merits of potential strategies to respond, and explore prospects for cooperative solutions.