Things have been heating up in the Persian Gulf over the past few months. Iranian boats and aircraft have assumed threatening positions toward American vessels, and the two sides have come close to firing on each other on a few occasions. This tension has prompted the Navy to consider a military hotline with the Islamic Republic. From the WSJ:
U.S officials said they are especially worried about a fleet of speedboats likely controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Tehran’s elite military force. The high-performance boats, which can be equipped with missiles, regularly challenge U.S. and allied warships that transit through the Persian Gulf.In recent months, a British destroyer fired warning shots at one of these boats as it appeared to be preparing to ram the larger ship. Iranian aircraft have also challenged U.S. ships in recent months. […]American officials, fearing that a misunderstanding could lead to wider conflict, are considering a formal proposal for emergency communications.
The hotline is probably a good idea. Many are understandably worried about establishing military communications with a rogue state known for sponsoring terrorist groups across the middle east and calling for the destruction of Israel. Yet establishing an emergency hotline is not equivalent to an endorsement of the regime — look at the “red telephone” to the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. In any case practical mil/mil talks are not diplomatic encounters; soldiers arrange temporary cease fires with the enemy in time of war.President Obama may finally get the dialogue with Iran he promised on the campaign — although perhaps not quite in the way he expected.