walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Published on: November 1, 2012
Will Obama Pull out a November Surprise?

It’s too late in the 2012 campaign season for an October surprise. But it isn’t too late for an early November surprise. With President Obama apparently now behind in the projected popular vote (although who knows with these polls?), what are the chances that he will order a strike in the next day or two, perhaps drones followed by commandos for that perfectly telegenic effect, directly on the head of one Ahmed Abu Khattala?

Abu Khattala, of course, is suspect number one in the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack that killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. He has also gone out of his way to make fools of American officials who, upon saying publicly that he had gone into hiding, made a point of appearing in public with reporters and others. That was embarrassing. For that reason, but especially for others more obvious, this man, as they say in Texas, needs killing. And I’m pretty sure my old acquaintance, Michael Vickers, agrees.

Obviously, if the President orders a strike he will be accused of playing politics with national security, and not for the first time (and probably not without some justification). And of course he will deny it, with extreme umbrage. And so what? If it works, that will quickly overshadow any mumbling about motives.

Of course, it’s no simple thing to pull the trigger on a guy like this. We need sufficient actionable intelligence to do that, and quite possibly in this case also a one-time suspension of the rules of engagement that require the target to be far away from potential innocents. But I doubt we’ve been sitting around with our thumbs up our butts over the past month and a half, so for all I know we have the intel—and we certainly have the ordnance. Is the President bold enough, or politically desperate enough, to give the order?

Probably not, but stranger things have happened. If it happens, you heard it here first. (If it doesn’t happen, well then it doesn’t happen.)

show comments
  • John Barker

    “one-time suspension of the rules of engagement that require the target to be far away from potential innocents.”

    Is political theater really worth innocent lives?I fear that someday soon we will be scraping the entrails of our own children off the walls of a school gymnasium. Murder is not warfare.

  • K2K

    I assign a higher probability to the November surprise of a Youtube video where Clint Eastwood directs Angelina Jolie’s endorsement of Obama.

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