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The Persian Hotline

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.

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  • Winston

    Dr. Mead, I have to disagree with you on this. It is a terrible idea. The Iranian regime will use this to tell its domestic audience (namely the Iranian people) that look the great satan is just another paper tiger and they are willing to submit to our strength. I think Obama’s lack of support for dissidents inside of Iran and their appeasement of the Iranian regime has backfired. The only way to deal with the Mullahs is from the point of strength and force. Being cozy, appeasement-y and cool won’t settle this problem. Show some muscle and the Iranian Mullahs won’t dare challenge the United States. For 1-2 months after 9/11 when USA was hunting down the Al-Qaeda, the Iranian regime and its media stopped using/saying “down with America” slogans in public places. The Iranian regime is scared of a strong America and the way to deal with them is to show power and spine. This hotline idea is a laughable joke. The Iranian regime will use it to smack the people and tell them how weak the US has become.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    We should let our weapon systems do the talking for us, they are clearly looking for an incident, and we should give it to them by sweeping the seas clean of Iranian shipping. Ooops, maybe should have left the big dog alone.
    Obama is such a [non-macho] person.

  • Sapper Squid

    While rather hawkish in nature and with first hand experience dealing with wonderful technical assistance Iran has provided to pro Iranian factions within neighboring countries, I still think this is a good measure. Unfortunately we have let our weapons do the talking in the past, and having the blood of another Iranian airliner on the hands of the US Navy is not a good for American national instests. While I would love to see the USN clear for action and roll up the Special Repulican guards, any over-reaction is probably most benficial to the current Iranian government. If we really want dismpower the current regime, I personally think we need to keep putting indirect pressure on their proxies like Syria while continuing to isolate.

  • Steve W from Ford

    A hotline would be useful if the Iranian actions were mistakes, but they are not.

    It is only a misunderstanding if both side are not trying to heighten tension. When one side is actively trying to stir the pot then an “accident” will be no accident.

  • Sapper Squid

    When somebody provokes you, the most rational and/or beneficial response is seldom immediate retaliation unless you are in immediate danger. Stop, think,and weigh the options if you can. If one must strike, do so deliberately at a time and place of your choosing. A hotline would provide a uselfull tool to help our forces either de-ecsalate future standoffs or, probably even more importantly, demonstrate we attempted to exercise due caution before opening fire in any future incidents. The Iranian government might be a truly evil institution(my opinion) but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t avoid killing innocent Iranians like we have sadly done in the past.

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