Trusting through the Moscow-Washington hotline: a role theoretical explanation of the hotline’s contribution to crisis stability

Eszter Simon, Agnes Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article explores how the Moscow-Washington hotline has contributed to crisis stability. Relying on symbolic interactionist role theory, the article argues that the hotline provides leaders with an opportunity to engage in altercasting behavior so as to trust each other temporarily when they use the hotline privately and exclusively and define the situation at hand as a crisis. This function of the hotline is particularly useful when leaders have not managed to develop interpersonal trust between them. This new understanding of the hotline questions the dominant view that it is a communication device only and improves upon its existing symbolic understandings by offering a conceptualization that explains how intentions communicated via the hotline are seen credible. Furthermore, seeing trust as role contributes to trust scholarship in IR by offering a middle-ground between defining trust as interests, which are often ambiguous in crises, and as identity, which is unattainable for adversaries in the short term. We use two historical cases studies, the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War, to illustrate our theoretical claims.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberogz062
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Global Security Studies
Early online date7 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Moscow-Washington hotline
  • crisis management
  • role theory
  • trust

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