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Is 9/11 a Second Pearl Harbor?

In the immediate aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, an overwhelming majority of commentators drew a parallel with the surprise blitz by Imperial Japan against the US Pacific fleet in Hawaii’s Bay of Pearl Harbor, on 7 December 1941.

According to Riccardo Alcaro, Research Coordinator and Head of the Global Actors Programme of the Istituto Affari Internazionali, the comparison rested on two pillars. The first had its roots in historical analogy and symbolic impact: the Pearl Harbor attack was the closest precedent of an aggression against the United States on its soil. The second concerned the impact on US domestic politics and, consequently, foreign policy.