Beware the Iran ‘Pearl Harbor’ Moment

In 2000, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) issued a report that proposed establishing a new U.S.-led security perimeter across the globe to protect Western interests and perform the “constabulary” duties associated with “shaping the security environment in critical regions.” 

The report, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” which suggested billions more in the Pentagon budget annually for reimagining military capabilities across the forces, including nuclear and space, was based in part on the Defense Policy Guidance, crafted by Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney during the George H. W. Bush Administration “for maintaining U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.”

The report noted that “the process of transformation” that PNAC envisioned, “even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.”

PNAC, which was founded by Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan and had been actively lobbying to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power, got its “Pearl Harbor” a year later. Within two years of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. invaded Iraq, saw Hussein executed, and was well on its way to fulfilling at least one top line goal from “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”: to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars.”