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October Surprise?

Talk again of an Israeli strike against Iran, the US pulled in quick and a big October surprise in campaign season. We’ll ask what’s bluster and what’s real.

Iranian demonstrators burn an Israeli and British flag during a an annual pro-Palestinian rally marking Quds (Jerusalem) Day, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, at the Enqelab-e-Eslami (Islamic Revolution) St. in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. (AP)

Iranian demonstrators burn an Israeli and British flag during a an annual pro-Palestinian rally marking Quds (Jerusalem) Day, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, at the Enqelab-e-Eslami (Islamic Revolution) St. in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. (AP)

It’s not the first time we’ve heard Israel threatening, loudly, to go to war with Iran. To strike at Iran’s nuclear program. But it’s a special time.

The U.S. presidential election is just eleven weeks away. Israel is opening new gas mask distribution centers, fortifying schools and hospitals, testing a missile alert system. Talking military strike, with one line of thought being American leaders, the White House, could not deny support on the eve a national election. That an October surprise would guarantee US backing.

This hour, On Point: Israel, Iran, the US – and the October surprise scenario.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

David Rothkopf, president and CEO of Garten Rothkopf, an international advisory firm. His latest column in Foreign Policy is “The Drums of August: Israel is not bluffing.”

R. Nicholas Burns, professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and ambassador to NATO for the U.S. Foreign Service.

Roger Cohen, columnist for The New York Times and International Herald Tribune. His latest column in The New York Times is headlined: “Israel’s Iran Itch.”

From Tom’s Reading List:

Foreign Policy “It is easy to be skeptical when the alarms start going off about a pending Israeli attack on Iran. They seem to come with the seasons, a geopolitical biorhythm that reminds us never to be too comfortable with one of the world’s most volatile relationships. But it is worth remembering that the punch line of the story about the little boy who cried wolf is that ultimately, the wolf shows up.”

New York Times “Hmm, it’s August, things are quiet, time for another wave of hysteria over an imminent Israeli attack on Iran. We’ve seen this movie for a decade — Israel’s “red line” on the Iranian nuclear program has proved of spandex-like elasticity.”

Al-Jazeera English “Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon-based Hezbollah group, has said that his fighters will make the lives of Israelis ‘a living hell’ if it is attacked.”

Reuters “Many thousands of Iranians shouted “Death to America, death to Israel” during state-organised protests on Friday and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told them there was no place for the Jewish state in a future Middle East.”

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