New Pearl Harbour
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The story...

A think tank called the Project for the New American Century, headed by people like Dick Cheney, revealed the thinking behind 9.11. puts it like this:

"The PNAC program, in a nutshell: America’s military must rule out even the possibility of a serious global or regional challenger anywhere in the world. The regime of Saddam Hussein must be toppled immediately, by U.S. force if necessary. And the entire Middle East must be reordered according to an American plan. PNAC’s most important study notes that selling this plan to the American people will likely take a long time, "absent some catastrophic catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor." (PNAC, Rebuilding America’s Defenses (1997), p.51)"

Our take...

Plenty of people share this interpretation of the quote. Here’s a few other takes on it.

The cabal of war fanatics advising the White House secretly planned a “transformation” of defense policy years ago, calling for war against Iraq and huge increases in military spending. A “catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor”—was seen as necessary to bring this about.

The victims of the 9/11 attacks have been disaster for Muslims because 19 Arabs were named as hijackers of the planes, but they've been a dream come true for the PNAC 'think-tank' whose 2000 Statement of Principles stated a "catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor" would advance their policies, i.e. justify wars and "regime changes".

There is circumstantial evidence that some part of the US administration was involved in the attack. It is certain that there was a strong desire on the part of some members for a “catalyzing event”, like Pearl Harbor,3 in order to provide the impetus for the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq; however desire is not proof of complicity.
9/11 - Evidence Suggests Complicity: Inferences from Actions
Frank Legge, Journal of 9/11 Studies

Fetzer: Jim do you know the exact part of the New American Century where that shows up?

Marr: Well, it is in there. Basically, and I am paraphrasing. Maybe at the next break I’ll have a chance to find that. It’s thoroughly covered in my new book “The Terror Conspiracy”. What it is, is that the authors of this report for the New American Century called “Rebuilding America” state that we need to invade Afghanistan, have a regime change in Iraq and increase military presence in the Middle East. Exactly echoing Cheney’s words, but they were a little bit astute, they said that this is going to be kind of a tough sell unless there is a “catastrophic and catalyzing event like Pearl Harbor”.

Fetzer: Like a New Pearl Harbor, exactly.

James Fetzer radio interview with Jim Marr(hour 2)

So the first quote tells us it’s about war in Iraq and huge increases in military spending, the second says it’s about justifying war and regime changes, the third and fourth link the quote to war on Iraq and Afghanistan. It seems there’s broad agreement, so can they all be wrong? Let’s see.

First, the actual full quote is this.

"Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor".

The odd word here seems to be "transformation". What do they mean? Let's look back to the beginning of the same chapter.

"To preserve American military preeminence in the coming decades, the Department of Defense must move more aggressively to experiment with new technologies and operational concepts, and seek to exploit the emerging revolution in military affairs. Information technologies,in particular, are becoming more prevalent and significant components of modern military systems. These information technologies are having the same kind of transforming effects on military affairs as they are having in the larger world. The effects of this military transformation will have profound implications for how wars are fought, what kinds of weapons will dominate the battlefield and, inevitably, which nations enjoy military preeminence".

So "transformation" refers to the process of introducing more information technologies into the military. What does 9/11 have to do with that? Nothing at all. In fact, the attacks demonstrated that one of the PNAC's pet schemes, a global missile shield, is entirely useless when planes can become bombs.

Now, it’s certainly true that Bush has continued to fund it, and with significant budget increases immediately post 9/11, but who says he wouldn’t have done so anyway? The reality is that the attacks themselves only give ammunition to hjs critics. And some of them had it immediately:

Some elected officials got the message. Sen. Carl Levin told Rumsfeld at a June 2001 hearing that we were lavishing money on missile defense and not "putting enough emphasis on countering the most likely threats to our national security ... like terrorist attacks."

So how did 9/11 make Levin look wrong, and the Bush administration right?

Back to the PNAC, where there's still the "Pearl Harbor" aspect. What did they mean by that? We can get an indication from the one other sentence in the document that uses the phrase.

"Absent a rigorous program of experimentation to investigate the nature of the revolution in military affairs as it applies to war at sea, the Navy might face a future Pearl Harbor – as unprepared for war in the post-carrier era as it was unprepared for war at the dawn of the carrier age".

The use of Pearl Harbour here means "a form of attack which we don't have the technology to counter", which now lets us make more sense of the first quote. All they're saying is that "the process of updating the US military will take a long time, unless the problems are made apparent by an attack that reveals our technical failings". 9/11 undoubtedly revealed failings in intelligence and response on the day, but nothing that matches the PNAC’s agenda. There’s no military technology fix that would have prevented it.

What about the other claims? 911Truth say the document wants Hussein to be "toppled immediately". Other sites also claim the PNAC wanted war with Iraq, but what do they say in the document?

"After eight years of no-fly-zone operations, there is little reason to anticipate that the U.S. air presence in the region should diminish significantly as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power. Although Saudi domestic sensibilities demand that the forces based in the Kingdom nominally remain rotational forces, it has become apparent that this is now a semi-permanent mission. From an American perspective, the value of such bases would endure even should Saddam pass from the scene."

Not much demand for his removal there. What about Syria, Iran, or other countries that aren’t so popular in the White House?:

"...according to the CIA, a number of regimes deeply hostile to America – North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria – “already have or are developing ballistic missiles” that could threaten U.S allies and forces abroad".

And did the neo-cons want these regimes to be destroyed? Wrong again, this sentence appeared in a chapter recommending that America develop a global missile shield. The shield is required because these countries exist.

Now, we’re not saying that the PNAC didn’t see 9/11 as presenting opportunities (in fact some of the members said publicly that it did). It did deliver increased military spending, of course, but that isn’t purely what the PNAC were after. They’re after targeted spending on new technologies, not simply more money. After the Pearl Harbor quote, for instance, the document reminds us it recommended a decision to “suspend or terminate aircraft carrier production”, and mentioned that the “Joint Strike Fighter... seems an unwise investment”. Yet as we write, 4 years on, neither issue is resolved:

Different versions of the Joint Strike Fighter are being developed for the Air Force, the Navy and the Marines, and there have been discussions that one of the models could be eliminated. The Pentagon also could delay the development of the next generation aircraft carrier - the CVN 21 - which is scheduled to begin construction in 2007.

Where we do think people really oversell this quote is in portaying it as some spookily accurate piece of foreknowledge, that the “New Pearl Harbour” was to justify regime change, war in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. That really is a step too far, as you’ll find out if you download "Rebuilding America's Defenses" and read if for yourself.

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