Could Pearl Harbor Happen Again?

February 19, 2017

America the Vulnerable

On December 7th, 1941, no one stationed at Battleship Row or anywhere else in Pearl Harbor had the slightest inkling that the morning would end in bloodshed and tragedy. For them, it was a calm Sunday morning, their breakfast just another in a long string of monotonous meals. It wasn’t ignorance on their part, but a certain level of comfort that made America seem invulnerable.

Then it happened. The first Japanese fighter. The first explosion from the USS Arizona, and that comfort was gone. It wasn’t the first time the United States was taken by surprise and, as September 11th, 2001 proved, it wasn’t the last time. But looking at the attack on Pearl Harbor as a military action, an act of war, we’re left wondering: Could it happen again? Could the United States face an attack of that caliber again?

From the East and the West

The short answer: Yes, an attack similar to that on Pearl Harbor is a possibility,
Take a look at a map of the United States and take note of what lies to the east and west.

Nothing but water. An immensely long stretch of water that can serve as the perfect staging point for an attack of a similar magnitude. At one point in time, long before World War II and even World War I, that vast expanse of nothing was once a defensive barrier against unfriendly foreign powers, but times and technology have changed.

The United States has already been taken by surprise since Pearl Harbor, and if we think about how plans for Japan’s attack on Oahu and the events of September 11th may have actually been suspected by the United States government, imagine what a hostile player could do if it were able to completely fly under the radar without any prior knowledge.


The nation’s eyes are open wide, surveying every power that even remotely moves in a matter we’re displeased with, but that’s not always enough, especially when some of those eyes may be willing to look the other way for whatever internal reasons.

Consider the country’s relations with certain foreign nations, as well. North Korea has few robust international relations, but it's in a constant struggle with the United States over nuclear weaponry. Recent developments even threaten to hinder ties with Mexico, our own neighbor to the south.

We live in a complicated time, a volatile one where many are on edge. Between the formation of ISIS, Russian activity in Ukraine, and the countless pockets of conflict scattered throughout the globe, there’s no reason to think we’re entirely safe from another Pearl Harbor-like disaster. Though it's extremely unlikely to come from Japan—which ironically became one of our strongest allies—the warning signs are there that an another attack on American soil is far from an impossibility.

Revisit History to Prepare for the Future

There’s a reason we learn history: to try and keep it from repeating itself.

If you’re looking to brush up on your knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack, the best place to do so is at the very site where it occurred. At the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, you can journey back in time to December 7th, 1941, when Japan’s fighters filled the skies and smoke billowed from Battleship Row.

Pearl Harbor Attack Aftermath

Get a complete look at the attack on Pearl Harbor through a series of exhibits and memorials dedicated to those lost.

Find a Tour


Remember Pearl Harbor Tour from Waikiki

Guided Tour

6-7 hours (approx.)
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The Complete Pearl Harbor Tour Experience With Lunch

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Pearl Harbor & Honolulu City Tour from Waikiki

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Official Passport to Pearl Harbor


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