Talking to the Enemy: Explaining Diplomatic Strategy in Conflicts in Asia



Oriana Mastro, Assistant Professor of Security Studies Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Date and Time

February 13, 2019 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM


RSVP Required.


Philippines Conference Room
Encina Hall, Third Floor, Central, C330
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305



A Special Seminar Series

RSVP required by February 12, 2019 to:



ABSTRACT: Diplomacy plays a critical role in the management and resolution of armed conflict in the international system. After a war breaks out, decision makers see the opening of talks as a constructive step in the conflict’s resolution — dialogue allows for belligerents to broker deals and coordinate the logistics of war termination. However, in modern warfare, states almost always fight initially for period of time without engaging in talks. What factors explain whether states are willing to talk to their enemy while fighting and when might their diplomatic postures change? “Talking to the Enemy” presents a framework to explain variation in countries’ approaches to wartime diplomacy, focusing on the costs of talks and how states mitigate these costs to get to the negotiating table. I test this framework with respect to Chinese decision making in the Korean and Sino-Indian Wars — one in which China was against talks for nine months before opening up and the latter in which China actively pursued talks throughout the whole conflict. The findings have significant implications for crisis management and conflict resolution in U.S.-China relations.  

Oriana MastroPROFILE: Oriana Skylar Mastro is an assistant professor of security studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University where her research focuses on Chinese military and security policy, Asia-Pacific security issues, war termination, and coercive diplomacy. Dr. Mastro is also a 2017-2019 Jeane Kirkpatrick Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) where she is working on a book about China’s challenge to U.S. primacy. Mastro continues to serve in the United States Air Force Reserve for which she works as a Senior China Analyst at the Pentagon. For her contributions to U.S. strategy in Asia, she won the Individual Reservist of the Year Award in 2016. She has published widely, including in Foreign Affairs, International Security, International Studies Review, Journal of Strategic Studies, The Washington Quarterly, The National Interest, Survival, and Asian Security, and is the author of The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime, (Cornell University Press, 2019). She holds a BA in East Asian Studies from Stanford University and an MA.and PhD in Politics from Princeton University. Her publications and other commentary can be found on twitter @osmastro and  


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