Niall Ferguson: Obama’s Possible Mideast Surprise

Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University. He is also a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His Latest book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, has just been published by Penguin Press.

Everyone knows there could be a surprise before Nov. 6—a news story that finally makes up the minds of those undecided voters in the swing states and settles the presidential election.

Right now, Barack Obama certainly needs one.

Well, it is not going to come from the economy (unless you want to factor in the risk of a 1987-style stock-market plunge, which would hardly help the president). And it is not going to come from Donald Trump. And even if the Democrats dig up two more barking-mad Republican candidates for the Senate, both of whom believe that rapes are part of God’s plan to make babies, no one is going to be very surprised.

No, the only kind of surprise I can envisage is a foreign-policy surprise. And if the polls get any scarier for the incumbent, we might just have one....

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