The 1968 Paris peace negotiations: A two level game?

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This article draws on fresh archival research to challenge Robert Putnam's ‘Two Level Game Theory’. In his seminal article, ‘Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two Level Games’, published by International Organization in 1988, Putnam contended that international negotiations proceed at the domestic level and at the international level. In taking diplomatic initiatives forward, leaders are compelled to respond to the needs of domestic constituencies, through granting concessions and building coalitions, while international negotiations are pursued with one goal in mind: that any agreement will not damage the domestic political calculus. This article contends that Lyndon Johnson's actions in 1968 disprove this thesis. The President was in fact relaxed about a Richard Nixon victory in the general election as his commitment to defend South Vietnam from communism was stronger than that of his sitting Vice President, Hubert Humphrey. The President's concern for the fate of South Vietnam thus superseded his concern for his ‘normal supporters'– the Democratic Party at large – who had become so hostile towards his management of the Vietnam War.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-599
Number of pages23
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011

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