On October 21, a U.S. naval battle group led by the USS Eisenhower will arrive in the Gulf of Hormuz, just off the coast of Iran. There is every good likelihood that such a deliberately provocative act will lead to what will be termed as an Iranian attack on an American vessel. This Tonkin-like incident will be used as the justification for a U.S. military strike against Iran — or alternatively, for a mighty rattling of American sabers at the perfidious Persians that stokes war fever and "rally-round-the-flag" sentiment but falls short of an actual attack at that time. This flashpoint — however it is exploited — will occur some time in the brief interim between the arrival of the Eisenhower group and the U.S. elections on November 5.
Such a scenario is not a sure thing, of course, and this is not a prophecy. It’s simply an assessment of the possibilities of the situation, based on the well-established history of the American use of highly convenient "provocations" — of whatever provenance — to launch politically expedient military actions, and on the Bush Administration’s record of manipulating the nation into unnecessary wars, along with the highly public calls of some of its most influential members and advisors for a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear program or a full-blown "regime change" action.
Also not to be discounted is the Administration’s proven penchant for initiating stupid, murderous policies that deeply harm the interests and security of the United States — but goose the poll numbers for George W. Bush and fill the coffers of his war-profiteering cronies.
In any event, the Eisenhower group will still be there after the election: a hair-trigger waiting to be pulled whenever the time is ripe.