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posted on 17 February 2016

9/11 Attack vs. Pearl Harbor Attack

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In America, the 9/11 attack is often compared with the Pearl Harbor attack. Is this a valid comparison? Yes and no, as will be explained below.

Yes, it is valid for two superficial reasons:

  1. They both were sneak attacks on American soil by foreign forces.
  2. About 3,000 Americans were killed on the day of each attack.

No, it is invalid for two main reasons:

  1. The reasons behind the two attacks were fundamentally different.
  2. America's responses to the two attacks were fundamentally different.

It is very important for Americans to understand the key differences between the two attacks as well as our two different responses, in order for America to safeguard her future!

1. Background

Let me highlight the two attacks, respectively.

1.1 The Pearl Harbor attack

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Pearl Harbor Attack:

The attack on Pearl Harbor, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor,[9] the Hawaii Operation or Operation AI by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters,[10][11] and Operation Z during planning,[12] was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, in the United States Territory of Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' entry into World War II.

1.2 The 9/11 attack

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - 9/11 Attack:

The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th, or 9/11)[nb 1] were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda on the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks consisted of suicide attacks used to target symbolic U.S. landmarks.

2. The reasons behind the two attacks

Let me highlight the reasons behind the two attacks, respectively.

2.1 The reasons behind the Pearl Harbor attack

Japan's ambition to conquer the world by conquering Asia first is well documented in the Tanaka Memorial (see image below).

By November 1941, Japan pretty much occupied the entirety of East Asia, including Korea, Taiwan, and China. The only military threat to more Japanese expansions (e.g. to the Philippines and Indonesia) was America, the Pacific Fleet specifically. So on December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, where the Pacific Fleet was headquartered. What a big gamble and even bigger mistake by Japan!

2.2 The reasons behind the 9/11 attack

The 9/11 attack, carried out by al-Qaeda, was also an attack on America. Before that, al-Qaeda carried out multiple attacks on America outside of America. Two examples:

  1. Wikipedia - 1998 U. S. embassy bombings.
  2. Wikipedia - 2000 USS Cole bombing.

So the 9/11 attack was merely an escalation of the war against America, with the maximal effect: it brought the war to America!

Why the war against America? Osama bin Laden, the head of al-Qaeda then, hated America’s interventionist policy in the Middle East! He was an evil man, using religion as his justification and to recruit his jihadists!

3. America's responses to the two attacks

Let me highlight America's responses to the two attacks, respectively.

3.1 America's response to the Pearl Harbor attack

On December 8, 1941, one day after the Pearl Harbor attack, America declared war on Japan! All of America was then mobilized to enter WWII and fight until its last day, when Japan unconditionally surrendered (see photo below)!

3.2 America's response to the 9/11 attack

On September 20, 2001, President George W. Bush declared "War on Terror" (On This Day: President Bush Declares "War-on-Terror"), which I believe was a mistake, because it initiated a perpetual, but unwinnable, war for America! On October 7, 2001, America invaded Afghanistan (War in Afghanistan) to go after Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack, which I believe was absolutely correct!

Unfortunately, by the summer of 2002, it became obvious that the War in Afghanistan was not easily winnable, which could therefore have put President Bush's 2004 re-election in jeopardy. Something bigger had to be done to turn the public's attention away from Afghanistan - Iraq was chosen! That, to me (in a Sherlock Holmes style), was the real reason behind the Iraq War, timely launched on March 20, 2003!

In other words, Iraq was merely a casualty of American politics at the time, but it was billed by the Bush administration as an extension of the response to the 9/11 attack - Totally illogical and wrong! It was like attacking Canada as a response to the Pearl Harbor attack! Two facts:

  1. Iraq was not part of the 9/11 attack on America!
  2. Saddam Hussein, the dictator in Iraq at the time, was not friendly with Osama Bin Laden, and there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq before the Iraq War!

Everything went wrong from there, including the War in Afghanistan! Specifically,

  1. Today, the War in Afghanistan is in its 15th year, with no end in sight!
  2. The entire Middle East is in total chaos. For more, read: The Middle East without America?

More profoundly, the Iraq War revealed a true nature of American democracy: Democratic Imperialism!

4. Imperial America vs. Imperial Japan

Imperial America launched the Iraq War similarly to the way Imperial Japan launched the attack on Pearl Harbor: bombing first and worrying about the consequences later!

4.1 Imperial Japan

Two Japanese individuals were chiefly responsible for the Pearl Harbor attack:

  1. Hideki Tojo. He was a general of the Imperial Japanese Army, and the 40th Prime Minister of Japan from October 17, 1941 to July 22, 1944. He ordered the Pearl Harbor attack.
  2. Isoroku Yamamoto. He was a Japanese Naval Marshal General and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during WWII. He directed the Pearl Harbor attack.

There was a big debate between the Japanese Imperial Army and the Japanese Imperial Navy about what to do with America. The Army, led by Tojo, wanted to attack Pearl Harbor. The Navy, led by Yamamoto, was against the idea of an attack. Below is a rumored conversation between them:

Tojo: Can you wipe out the Pacific Fleet in a few days?

Yamamoto: Yes, I can. But then what?

Tojo: Hmm ... Let's worry about that later.

Yamamoto was a Harvard graduate and a well-traveled man, having seen the potential of America. Tojo, on the other hand, was limited in his knowledge about America. The debate between them was over when Tojo became the Prime Minister on October 17, 1941. Tojo ordered Yamamoto to attack Pearl Harbor, which he carried out on December 7, 1941.

4.2 Imperial America

A simple question: before the Iraq War was launched, was there a debate within the Bush administration similar to the one between Tojo and Yamamoto before the Pearl Harbor attack? I bet yes, especially the "then what?" part!

What was the answer? “Let’s worry about that later”, just as in the case of Japan?

For a comprehensive review of the Iraq War, including what happened inside the Bush administration, especially the lack of planning about governing after toppling the Saddam regime, watch the video below.

4.3 Summary

The Pearl Harbor attack proved to be a huge mistake by the Japanese government. Who made that mistake specifically? Tojo, as he was a de facto dictator! Tojo was eventually held accountable - He was prosecuted and hanged on December 23, 1948!

The Iraq War was obviously a huge mistake by the American government. Who made that mistake specifically? President George W. Bush? Perhaps, but he was not a dictator. Who has been held accountable? No one, yet! Here are several calls:

  1. War Criminals Among Us: Bush, Cheney, and the Eyes of the world.
  2. Desmond Tutu calls for Blair and Bush to be tried over Iraq.

What, then, is Mr. Blair's position on the Iraq War? Here is the latest news: Tony Blair's acceptance that Iraq war facilitated rise of ISIS is a first step to acknowledging the conflict was a disaster. What about President George W. Bush's position? No change of heart, yet!

More profoundly on the Iraq War vs. WWII-Japan, read: Saddam Hussein vs. Emperor Hirohito!

5. Discussion

The analogy between the 9/11 attack and the Pearl Harbor attack will continue in America for a long time. So will, perhaps, the analogy between the Iraq War as a response to the 9/11 attack and a hypothetical American attack on Canada as a response to the Pearl Harbor attack!

The 9/11 attack was undoubtedly the worst attack on America in recent history. Unfortunately, our response was much worse than the attack itself, in terms of the damage to America! Here is one example:

Here is another example:

For more, watch the video below.

As for the Pearl Harbor attack, America did make a huge mistake in its response: Internment of Japanese Americans. It remains as one of the darkest spots in American history. The mistake must not be repeated, by race, ethnicity, or religion!

6. Closing

It's a long way from the Pearl Harbor attack to the 9/11 attack, and to the Iraq War! What's the most important lesson to learn? Imperialism is terrible, and Democratic Imperialism is still imperialism!

Finally, what’s the root cause behind the 9/11 attack? Our interventionist foreign policy! Have we addressed the root cause yet? No! What does that mean for America? More attacks in the future!

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