Level Two Negotiations: Helping the Other Side Meet Its “Behind-the-Table” Challenges



A long analytic tradition has explored the challenge of productively synchronizing “internal” with “external” negotiations, with a special focus on how each side can best manage internal opposition to agreements negotiated “at the table.” Implicit in much of this work has been the view that each side's leadership is best positioned to manage its own internal conflicts, often by pressing for deal terms that will overcome internal objections and by effectively “selling” the agreement to key constituencies. Far less frequently have analysts considered how each side can help the other side with its “behind-the-table” barriers to successful agreement. Following Robert Putnam's two-level games schema, I characterize such “behind-the-table” or “Level Two” barriers more broadly, offer several innovative examples of how each side can help the other overcome them, and develop more general advice on doing so most effectively. As a fuller illustration of a Level Two negotiator helping the other side with its formidable behind-the-table challenges, I pay special attention to the end-of-Cold-War negotiations over German reunification in which former American Secretary of State James Baker played a key role.