Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton took to Fox News this morning to blast the idea of a “hotline” between Iran and the United States. Bolton is quick to dismiss the concept as cheap political ploy to heighten Iran’s “prestige”:
Well it’s not always the best course to assume the Ahmadinejad’s being entirely logical in what I will call the “Western” sense of that word. But it’s possible on the hotline, what he has in mind, is a mechanism that he thinks will enhance Iran’s prestige. After all, how many countries does the U.S. have that kind of hotline with. I think this is part of his charm offensive. It’s hard to use that phrase when he’s also accusing us of masterminding the 9/11 attacks but again, in his rather strange way, this is a signal as well to us as inside Iran to try and enhance his position in the political infighting that’s going on there.
While Bolton is dismissive of establishing a hotline, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen, speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last week, said:
We haven’t had a connection with Iran since 1979. Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union. We are not talking to Iran, so we don’t understand each other. If something happens, it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right — that there will be miscalculation which would be extremely dangerous in that part of the world. [...]
And one day before Mullen delivered his remarks, The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. officials were examining the establishment of a hotline following a series of “near miss” encounters between American and Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf.
Bolton dismisses the hotline as a ploy by Ahmadinejad to increase his “prestige.” But the U.S. military is increasingly voicing concern that a misunderstanding with Tehran could lead to a wider conflict in an already tense region.