by Daniel Gardner
You may have heard predictions of an "October surprise" affecting not only the November elections but also threatening balance of powers particularly in the Middle East.
Conspiracy theorists have talked about October surprises since the 1968 election between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon. In October 1968 President Johnson, in an effort to help Humphrey's odds of winning, released information suggesting a peace agreement with Vietnam was in the works.
In 1980 rumors persisted President Carter would negotiate a last-minute release of the Iranian hostages in October, but the tables turned when Iran said they would not release the hostages until after the election. Conspiracy theorists on both sides had a field day with that "surprise."
This year's conspiracy theorists are pointing to a showdown between Israel and Iran over Iran's development of a nuclear bomb. How might that showdown affect our presidential election?
Consider the role President Obama's administration has played (or not) in the Middle East. Beginning in the summer of 2009, Mr. Obama traveled to multiple Muslim nations in the Middle East extending his own hand of friendship based largely on his own lifetime experiences and relationships with Islam, while simultaneously apologizing for America's misunderstandings of Islam.
Actually, before he took office, during the Democratic primary Mr. Obama stated flatly as president he would engage in face-to-face talks with Iranian President Ahmadinejad without pre-conditions. This position coupled with his outreach to Muslim states in the Middle East stands in sharp contrast with his less than cordial treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during state visits to Washington as well as his failure to visit Israel since his election as president.
Some have postulated Mr. Obama has purposefully stepped back from supporting Israel while giving green lights to Muslim nations particularly during the Arab Spring encouraging the rise of parties like the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups associated with Islamic terrorism.
Just one example out of many here at home illustrate Mr. Obama's empathy with Islam: the Obama administration insists that the Fort Hood shooting in 2009 when Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 soldiers and wounded 29 others while exclaiming, "Allahu Akbar!" a war cry of Islamic terrorists, is an act of "workplace violence" and not an act of terrorism.
Israel has signaled it might attack Iran militarily before the November elections to prevent Iran from further developing its nuclear capabilities. Coincidently, Israel has announced the largest Mediterranean war games in US-Israeli history in October. Top off this development with Iran's deployment of two warships in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Lebanon, Iran's involvement in the Syrian uprising (along with Russia's involvement), and the flow of new rockets going to Hamas in Palestinian territories and some might speculate the Middle Eastern power keg has a very short fuse.
Some have theorized Mr. Obama has used a Hegelian dialectic to position himself as a peacemaker in the conflict between Israel and Iran. Hegelian dialect is a psychological tool to manipulate the masses by creating or exacerbating a problem, waiting for a reaction to that problem, and then offering a solution garnering more power as a problem solver. It's a dangerous game, and much more dangerous when nuclear bombs are involved.
What would Mr. Obama do if conflict breaks out between Israel and Iran? What is America's foreign policy regarding the Middle East? How would answers to these questions affect the November election?