The Nature of the October Suprise

Cross Posted at Media Pundit.

With Republicans polling poorly and Iraq beginning to look like Arabic for Vietnam, an October surprise by the administration would come as, well, no surprise.  Adding fuel to the speculative fire, Newsmax recently reported that Karl Rove has been promising Republican insiders such a surprise surprise to help them maintain control of the House and the Senate.  Given the fact that this administration has repeatedly placed politics before policy and seems more interested in maintaining power than protecting the American people, it is safe to say that an October surprise is on the way in the next few weeks.

Below I present several possibilities for the form this surprise may take, along with evidence supporting the likelihood of each.  I have listed them in what I understand to be the most likely order of probability, from greatest to least.

1.  A Pre-Emptive Strike on Iran

Former Senator Gary Hart made a surreal prediction of this possibility a few weeks ago:

The president will speak on national television. He will say this: Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons; if this happens, the entire region will go nuclear; our diplomatic efforts to prevent this have failed; Iran is offering a haven to known al Qaeda leaders; the fate of our ally Israel is at stake; Iran persists in supporting terrorism, including in Iraq; and sanctions will have no affect (and besides they are for sissies). He will not say: ...and besides, we need the oil.

Therefore, he will announce, our own national security and the security of the region requires us to act. "Tonight, I have ordered the elimination of all facilities in Iran that are dedicated to the production of weapons of mass destruction....." In the narrowest terms this includes perhaps two dozen targets.

Making his argument seem even more likely, Hart goes on to write:
Were these more normal times, this would be a stunning possibility, quickly dismissed by thoughtful people as dangerous, unprovoked, and out of keeping with our national character. But we do not live in normal times.
Despite the hope offered by plans for talks and negotiations between the two powers, many analysts fear that the opportunity for a peaceful solution may be passing.  As MSNBC reports:
The US and Iran appear to be on the brink of missing what analysts see as an historic opportunity to engage in comprehensive, high-level talks because of a complete lack of trust on both sides.
 It looks as if the timing for the administration couldn't be better:
The US is set to resume its efforts this week to get a United Nations Security Council resolution that would impose limited sanctions against Iran for failing to heed an August 31 deadline set by the council to suspend enrichment.
The White House does not believe the Iranian leadership is serious about negotiations. And in Tehran there is intense suspicion about US motives and an understandable reluctance to throw away one of its strongest cards - the ongoing enrichment programme - before talks even begin.
 Time Magazine recently asked the question "What Would War Look Like" in Iran and led the story with the following:
A flurry of military maneuvers in the Middle East increases speculation that conflict with Iran is no longer quite so unthinkable.
 Given all of these factors, and the fact that a major Administration strategy for holding onto Congress in this election is to appear to be the party that is "tough on terror," a pre-emptive strike on Iran looks to be the most likely of the possibilities.

2.  A Major Terrorist Attack on U.S. Soil or a Thwarted Plot

As the UN Observer points out, this administration has developed a habit of catching terrorism suspects had highly suspect times:

The day after Senate Democrats brought a vote to pull out of Iraq, we catch a few idiots in Miami who were supposedly trying to blow up the Sears Tower, despite the fact that they lacked the means and ability to do so. Then there were the guys busted for supposedly plotting to blow up a New York subway exactly a year after the London bus bombings. And don't forget the release of new Osama bin Laden tapes just before the 2004 election as well as the very day after the Supreme Court decision striking down the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals. And now today, a few men in England were arrested for a plan to blow up planes flying to America, just a day after Connecticut voters flatly rejected Joe Lieberman and the war in Iraq.
 This, coupled with the fact that Bush's approval ratings were by far the highest immediately following 9/11, leads me to believe that we may be in for another terrorist attack, either successful or thwarted.  Chris Weignant makes an interesting point about this possibility on HuffPo:
Some argue that this would hurt Republicans in the elections ("You haven't kept us safe!"). Others argue that it would help Republicans ("You were right about the War on Terror, please protect us!"). My guess is that it would depend on the timing. If it happened less than a week before election day, I bet it would help Republicans. If it happened any further out than that, voters might have time to reflect, and pin the blame for the attack on the Republicans.
 The rest of his article is worth reading for an even broader range of October surprise possibilities.

3.  A Pre-Emptive Strike on North Korea

North Korea just announced that they will be conducting a nuclear weapons test sometime in the near future.  The U.S., of course, repsonded in a threatening tone:

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill had a blunt warning for North Korea.  "It can have a future or it can have these weapons," said Chris Hill. "It cannot have both."
 Keep in mind that North Korea, though it has been largely ignored by the administration lately, is part of the original axis of evil.  An attack on North Korea would not only act as an October surprise, it would also serve as the ultimate distraction to the quagmire in Iraq.

Possibilities not included for reasons of brevity, unlikelihood, and/or absurdity.
The Capture or Death of Osama Bin Laden.
The Revelation that Lamont and Woodward are gay lovers.
Cancellation of the Election for National Security Purposes.
Cheney and/or Rumsfeld resignation.
Victory and/or Troop withdrawal in Iraq.
Cheney Heart Attack or other health problems.

Add your own possibilities in the comments!

Tags: administration, Iran, Iraq, midterm elections, North Korea, October Surprise, terrorism (all tags)



Re: The Nature of the October Suprise

General Rove's trouble is that he's already been October Surprised by FoleyGate. Any military conflict he tries to start now will look like wagging the dog to save his own ass.

by Sitkah 2006-10-04 04:52PM | 0 recs
Re: The Nature of the October Suprise

If I were Rove I would be telling everyone we had a plan too. Indeed they do have a plan, a sophisticated and well coordinated get out the vote program combined with viscous smear tactics and a lot of money.  I doubt will see anything positive for the republicans on the international front. Much more likely they will receive bad rather than good international news.

by Wesc 2006-10-04 09:18PM | 0 recs
Re: The Nature of the October Suprise

There are at least two other military possibilities that are much easier to pull off because they are closer to home.

An attack/assault in Venezuela to depose Chavez and install a "friendly" government.  In the long term, of course, this would be disastrous but these guys don't think far out.  A coup already failed so troops would have to be sent but they can be based in the US.

A second possibility that would be much tougher to pull off would be an assault on Cuba.  Of course, from a long term basis, this might be a political mistake as some of the Cubans might depart for "home" soil.

by David Kowalski 2006-10-05 10:45AM | 0 recs
I think Bush'll do _something_ to keep from losing

What he will do, I don't know, but I think Bush will be reckless and do something.

If Bush were a gambler, he'd be down to his last chips right now. Despite his public optimism, he must know that if he does nothing, the house and perhaps the senate will be lost, and his next two years will be very, very unpleasant.  Doing nothing means losing.  Doing something means that he might still win.

Attacking Iran is like doubling down: maybe he wins, maybe he loses, but he was going to lose anyway, so he's got nothing to lose.  Why else does he have four, count 'em, four carrier strike groups within range of Iran by Nov. 1st?  To help with negotiations?  He's not a negotiator.

I really hate to say it, but I think he'll bomb Iran between Nov. 3rd and 5th.  I was right when Saddam massed troops before invading Kuwait, I was right when Shrub invaded Iraq w/o UN approval, and I now predict Bush will start to bomb Iran about a week from today.

Even if it's not for electoral shenanigans, and just for neocon warmaking, it makes sense to attack now so he can go to a friendly lame-duck congress to get approval to continue the war before his 60 days of free war runs out.

I sure hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.  He's a trapped animal, and very dangerous.

If he does attack... I expect quick condemnation from all sides, and impeachment within 9 months.  It'll seal his doom.

by aip 2006-10-28 02:05AM | 0 recs


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