12 years after the second Pearl Harbor

9/11 has often been called “the second Pearl Harbor” and while the term was coined to evoke patriotic emotions, it also evokes the question how much of the behind-the-scenes part of the two events are similar?

Thanks to democratic societies’ insistence on unsealing classified documents after a certain number of years, today it’s publicly available information that the US government not only knew about the planned Japanese attack in advance, they were actually planning a response ahead of time.

Just a few direct quotes:

Ernest Johnson, late October 1941: “the Jap fleet has moved eastward, presumably to attack our fleet at Pearl Harbor”.

November 3, 1941, telegram from Tokyo ambassador Joseph Grew to Washington: “an armed conflict with the United States may come with dangerous and dramatic suddenness.”

George Marshall, Chief of Staff, November 15, 1941, at a secret meeting with reporters: “We are preparing an offensive war against Japan”.

November 25, 1941, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, regarding the Japanese attack expected in the near future, perhaps as soon as the following week: “The question is how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves”.

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