From the very first moments, American bourgeois propaganda has likened the 11 September attack on the World Trade Center to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941. This comparison is laden with considerable psychological, historical and political impact, since it was Pearl Harbor that marked American imperialism’s direct entry into the Second World War. Like all bourgeois ideological myths, whatever the elements of truth that offer superficial credibility, this propaganda barrage is laced with half-truths, lies, and self-serving distortion. But this is no surprise. The politics of the bourgeoisie as a class are based on lies, deception, manipulation, and maneuver. This is particularly true when it comes to the difficult task of mobilizing society for all out war in modern times. There is considerable evidence that the bourgeoisie was not taken by surprise by the attacks in either case, that the bourgeoisie cynically welcomed the massive death toll in both cases for the purposes of political expediency in regard to implementation of its imperialist war aims, and other long range political objectives.
The machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie
All too often, when the ICC denounces the machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie, our critics accuse of us of lapsing into a conspiratorial view of history. However their incomprehension in this regard is not just a misunderstanding of our analysis, but � even worse � falls prey to the ideological claptrap of bourgeois apologists in the media and academia whose job it is to denigrate as irrational conspiracy theorists those who try to ascertain the patterns and processes within bourgeois political, economic and social life. However, it is not even controversial to assert that lies, terror, coercion, double-dealing, corruption, plots and political assassination have been the stock in trade of exploitative ruling classes throughout history, whether in the ancient world, feudalism or modern capitalism. Lying and manipulation, a mechanism employed by all preceding exploiting classes, have become central characteristics of the political mode of functioning of the modern bourgeoisie, which, utilizing the tremendous tools of social control available to it under the conditions of state capitalism, has taken machiavellianism to a qualitatively higher stage.
This is not to say all events in contemporary society are necessarily predetermined by the secret scheming of a small circle of capitalist leaders. But even with an incomplete consciousness, the bourgeoisie is more than capable of formulating strategy and tactics, and using the totalitarian control mechanisms of state capitalism to implement them. To turn a blind eye to this aspect of the ruling class offensive to control society is irresponsible and plays into the hands of our class enemies.
Machiavellianism of the American ruling class at Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor offers an excellent example of bourgeois machiavellianism at work. We have the benefit of more than half of century of historical research, and a number of military and opposition party-controlled investigations to draw on. According to President Roosevelt, 7 December 1941 was “a day that will live in infamy,” an example of Japanese treachery. It was used as a means to mobilize public opinion for war in 1941, and is still portrayed in the same way in the capitalist media, schoolbooks and popular culture. Nevertheless, considerable historical evidence demonstrates that the Japanese attack was consciously provoked by American policy. The attack did not come as a surprise, and the Roosevelt administration made a conscious decision to permit the attack both to occur and to sustain significant losses of life and naval hardware, as a pretext to secure America’s entry into the Second World War. A number of books and considerable material on the Internet have been published on this history. Here we will only review the highlights just to illustrate the operational aspects of bourgeois machiavellianism.
In 1941, the Roosevelt administration was anxious to enter the war against Germany. However, despite the fact that the American working class was firmly trapped in the grip of a trade union apparatus (in which the Stalinist party played a significant role) that had been imposed under state authority to control the class struggle in all key industries; and despite the fact that the working class was imbued with the ideology of anti-fascism, the American bourgeoisie still faced strong opposition to war within the population, not only within the working class, but even within the bourgeoisie itself. Public opinion polls showed 60% opposed to entering the war before Pearl Harbor, and the America First campaign and other isolationist groups had considerable support within the bourgeoisie. The decision to impose an oil embargo against Japan and the transfer of the Pacific fleet from the West Coast of the US to a more exposed position in Hawaii served to provide motive and opportunity for Japan to fire the first shots against the US, and thereby provide the pretext for direct American intervention in the imperialist war. As presidential advisor Harold Ickes put it in a June 1941 memo, “There might develop from the embargoing of oil to Japan such a situation as would make it not only possible but easy to get into this war in an effective way.” In November 1941, Secretary of War Stimson wrote about the plan to “maneuver them (Japan) into the position of firing the first shot without too much danger to ourselves.”
The report of the Army Pearl Harbor Board (October 20, 1944) described this conscious decision to sacrifice lives and equipment at Pearl Harbor, concluding that during “the fateful period between November 27 and December 6, 1941 numerous pieces of information came to our State, War and Navy Departments in all of their top ranks indicating precisely the intentions of the Japanese including the probable exact hour and date of the attack.” This information included:
� US intelligence sources learned on November 24th that “Japanese offensive military operations” had been set.
� On November 26, “specific evidence of the Japanese intentions to wage offensive war against Great Britain and the United States” were obtained by US intelligence.
� “A concentration of units of the Japanese fleet at an unknown port ready for offensive action” was also reported on November 26.
� On December 1, “definite information came from three independent sources that Japan was going to attack Great Britain and the United States, but would maintain peace with Russia.”
� On December 3, “the culmination of this complete revelation of the Japanese intentions as to war and the attack came� with information that Japanese were destroying their codes and code machines. This was construed�as meaning immediate war.”
This intelligence information was given to the highest-ranking officials in the War and State Departments, and shared with the White House, where Roosevelt personally received twice-daily briefings on intercepted Japanese messages. Despite the desperate urgings of intelligence officers to send a “war warning” to military commanders in Hawaii to prepare for imminent attack, the civilian and military brass decided against doing so, and instead sent what the board termed “an innocuous” message.
This evidence of prior knowledge of the Japanese attack was confirmed in numerous sources, including journalists and memoirs of participants. For example, a United Press dispatch published in the New York Times on December 8, included the following under the subhead ‘Attack Was Expected’:
“It now is possible to reveal that the United States forces here had known for a week that the attack was coming and they were not caught unprepared.”
In a 1944 interview, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, revealed that “December 7 was far from the shock it proved to be to the country in general. We had expected something of the sort for a long time.” On June 20 1944, British Cabinet Minister Sir Oliver Lyttelton told the American Chamber of Commerce, “Japan was provoked into attacking the Americans at Pearl Harbor. It is a travesty on history ever to say that America was forced into the war. Everyone knows where American sympathies were. It is incorrect to say that America was ever truly neutral even before America came into the war on a fighting basis.” Winston Churchill confirmed the duplicity of the American government rulers in the Pearl Harbor attack in this passage from his Grand Alliance:
“The President and his trusted friends had long realized the grave risks of United States neutrality in the war against Hitler and what he stood for, and had writhed under the restraints of a Congress whose House of Representatives had a few months before passed by only a single vote the necessary renewal of compulsory military service, without which their Army would have been almost disbanded in the midst of the world convulsion. Roosevelt, Hull, Stimson, Knox, General Marshall, Admiral Stark, and, as a link between them all, Harry Hopkins, had but one mind... A Japanese attack upon the United States was a vast simplification of their problems and their duty. How can we wonder that they regarded the actual form of the attack, or even its scale, as incomparably less important than the fact that the whole American nation would be united for its own safety in a righteous cause as never before?”
Roosevelt may not have anticipated the extent of the damage and casualties that the Japanese would inflict at Pearl Harbor, but he was clearly prepared to sacrifice American ships and lives, in order to arouse the population to rage, and to war.
In the second part of this article we will examine evidence for similar machiavellian intrigues around the Twin Towers horror.