Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Guest conspiracy theory of the month, Admiral Mullen's busy diary and whither the 'October Surprise'?

And that's my longest blog post header ever. Pre-election jitters, October surprises, it's speculation time so here is my guest conspiracy theory, the third in an occasional series. Props to me if I'm right but I'd much, much rather not be.

I note that, over the weekend, Admiral Mike Mullen - Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff - had a secretive meeting in Lake Placid with Europe's military top brass. Attendees were: Sir Graham Stirrup of Britain’s Royal Air Force, German Army Gen. Wolfgang Schneiderhan, French Army Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin and Italian Air Force Gen. Vincenzo Camporini.

I can find only 2 media mentions of this, both in very obscure publications. The Plattsburgh Press Republican writes' The day after the planes had left, Capt. John Kirby, a special assistant to Mullen, confirmed that the top military leaders from five countries met in Lake Placid to discuss mutual security issues, including Afghanistan.
“I’m not at liberty to go into the details that was discussed, but they went through a wide range of security issues that are common to all five nations,” Kirby said.
“They discussed, in broad terms, progress in Afghanistan and where we’re heading with regard to Afghanistan, particularly the NATO mission there. And they discussed other mutual issues of security concerns.”

On Monday 20th October, Admiral Mullen met Serbian president Boris Tadic, and the Serbian Chief of Defence in Belgrade, and discussed ways the two countries' militaries could work together, two weeks after the US Defence Secretary had flown to Kosovo to voice US support for its territorial integrity. Which is pretty extraordinary.

On Tuesday 21st October, Admiral Mullen met with his Russian counterpart, at the Russians' request, apparently, in Helsinki. The first meeting since Russia invaded Georgia. This has been much more widely reported. NYT writes 'The admiral said he and General Makarov had discussed American disquiet over the war in Georgia — Russia’s first post-Soviet offensive outside its soil — as well as Russian unhappiness with the arrival of American warships in the Black Sea with humanitarian aid for Georgia. Other topics included NATO’s relations with Russia and how to improve cooperation on countering terrorism, halting the proliferation of unconventional weapons and stemming narcotics trafficking'.

Also on Tuesday, Mullen was in Riga, Latvia warning Iraq that 'time was running out' for Iraq to approve a bilateral agreement with the US to extend US military operations after December 31st, the expiration date of the UN Security Council agreement for the US military to be in Iraq. Mullen also made some strongly-worded references to Iran 'meddling'.

Ho hum. Busy, busy, busy.

Now for all I know, Admiral Mullen has these sorts of high-level, high-security international top brass meetings all the time, and his recent round of meetings in such quick succession is nothing special. I am merely flagging this up because I think it is interesting timing, less than 2 weeks before an election and with no 'October Surprise' having *cough* hoved into the erm, airspace yet.

It is no secret that the imploding economy is proving catastrophic for the Republicans' election campaign, and they are desperate to change the channel to foreign policy/war on terror stuff where they percieve their Presidential candidate to have an advantage.

So if an international incident suddenly pops up... an 'October surprise' which proves an election is worth remembering Admiral Mullen's busy 4 days meeting key defence chiefs from Europe, Russia and the Balkans from 18th- 22nd October.

Random speculation time: Barry Cooper, a Professor of political science, writes about a possible Russian October surprise in the Calgary Herald. Russia stirring up trouble in America's back yard? Cooking up a storm in Nicaragua, Cuba, or Venuzuela, retaliation for NATO's approaches up to its borders? So I say, hmmm, what about Venuzuela's planned naval base in the Caribbean, from whence their Russian friends can gaze beadily at the US? Ostensibly the base is to help fight narcotics trafficking. Narcotics trafficking being something Mullen and the Russians discussed on Tuesday, as you'll recall.

A spot of arms-dealing, some circling warships...a Cuban Missile Crisis part 2? A civilian airliner or military aircraft shot down by rocket launchers? God knows, and we certainly could drive ourselves all wild by guessing.

Joe Biden certainly seems to think something is afoot, in the next six months, mentioning Russia and the Middle East, telling people to 'gird their loins' and making Kennedy comparisons. Biden said, somewhat unguardedly, at a fund raiser

'It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

War is of course what saved the US economy in the early days of Bush's administration, following the Enron scandal. I really hope they don't intend a war with Iran. We've had enough energy-related military interventions for a while, don't you think?

That last sentence of Biden's, by the way, was really asking for it. Conspiracy theorists will have an absolute field day when whatever it is happens, saying it was 'generated'. And something will happen, because it always does - that's the nature of international politics, and testing times during new administrations.

Just look at what's going on in Pakistan under its new cash-strapped government, as the country faces economic collapse and the loss of its western regions to militant extremists, criminals and tribal warlords. It's close to chaos, and America roaming about in the militant strongholds and tribal badlands bombing villages, ostensibly in search of Bin Laden, isn't helping. It's also making a vengeful terrorist strike on UK or US soil more likely as well. As the Americans (and everyone else) damn well knows.

You have to wonder if they'd be that cynical as to practically provoke one for election-winning, I'm not going there. Pakistan, meanwhile is awash with conspiracy theories of its own.

I'm not surprised, they bloom like mould during tense times like these. They don't help, they just make people freaked out and fearful, and that is why I don't give them airtime very often. I have a temperature and am feeling pretty ill today, which probably explains why I've started rummaging through international geo-economic-politics and spooking myself out.

Re-reading Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, which isn't very soothing either. It remains essential reading though, now more than ever.

Thank God there's less than 2 weeks til the US elections, though I suppose all the legal wrangling will delay the result, unless there's a landslide. These bastards really, really don't want their party to end, nor judgment day to ever come.

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Blogger Autolycus said...

Hmm - and which candidate has remarks on records that suggest greater hawkishness towards Pakistan, which could be used to suggest naive meddling if/when trouble kicks off from there?

October 22, 2008 2:04 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

He's just a senator at the moment though isn't he? He can't order anyone to bonb anything. Ergo, any retaliation is because of what Bush and his lot have ordered.

I don't think the hawk-talk is much more than electioneering. I hope not. But he has to make 'kill Bin Laden' signals to counterbalance being seen as soft on enemies due to opposition of Iraq war.

I'm not sure that Russian ships will be able to materialise in Venuzuela in time for an October surprise, so I expect we'll have the usual Bin Laden video instead.

Or the trumpeting of a key Al Q arrest, probably someone who M16 are already on to, thus f*cking up another UK operation through Yankee bragging for strategically-timed political purposes.

Happened in 2004, so why not again? NeoCons are nothing if not predictable.

October 22, 2008 2:41 pm  
Blogger Anglonoel said...

Hello Rachel

If you are re-reading Naomi Klein, I'd recommend Greg Palast & Craig Unger as well. I'm currently re-reading 'Armed Madhouse' and I read 'The Fall of the House of Bush' on my hols last month- that is well worth having a look through.

October 22, 2008 5:12 pm  
Blogger kris said...

I see what you mean - but I think most US enemies would rather deal with Obama than Mr "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" McCain.

October 22, 2008 7:30 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Rather amusingly, the latest is that 'al Qaeda supporters endorse McCain', suggesting on a radical website that they would welcome a pre-election terror attack to ensure a McCain victory and thus prolong America's economic woes by exhausting it in an endless war.
Meanwhile, Obama had a high-powered foreign policy meeting with his top advisors and later on extolled the virtues of multilateralism in an internconnected world, linking both the economy problems and national security concerns with the 'unlilateralist' bluster of Bush.

Something is definitely up.

Thanks for the reading recommendations, anglonoel.

October 22, 2008 7:46 pm  

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