I watched Tora! Tora! Tora! recently. That movie is supposed to be the most historically accurate and truthful ever made about the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was an entertaining and informative movie packed with good performances and some of the most spectacular plane crashes and stunts on an airfield I've ever seen.
And at the same time, the sequence of events that led up to the Japanese attack were almost inconceivable. The level of incompetence, stupidity, bad luck, mistake-making, and almost deliberate failure to let the Japanese attack be so successful defies imagination. This was one of those legendary sequences where truth is stranger than fiction.
When the radar crew (which stayed longer than their night shift required) spotted the incoming Japanese planes, they were mistaken for B-17s being delivered to the airbase and the radar station was told "yeah? Well don't worry about it."
When intelligence services using cracked Japanese codes figured that an attack was imminent, they were unable to radio Hawaii about it because the atmospheric conditions were bad. So they sent a telegram, which was shelved for eventual delivery because it wasn't marked "urgent."
On and on it went, delays, mistakes, confusion, circumstances, almost a perfect set of events that if you read about them in a book you'd complain was too contrived and unbelievable. That would never happen! you'd cry and close the book in disgust.
But that's what really happened.
And when there was a congressional examination of the events to discover what went wrong, it was done after the war and while blame was assessed, the ones ultimately held responsible were, wait for this... the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor. They recognized failure and incompetence but blamed the people who actually did the act.
Now, fast forward about 60 years and consider a new attack on US soil that killed thousands and demolished millions of dollars of materials. This new attack was at an economic target instead of a military one, and it actually killed significantly more people (2,403 died in Pearl Harbor, while 3,996 died from 9/11).
When the terrorist attack on September 11th 2001 took place, the accusations and infighting began almost instantly. President Bush was questioned by the press and the left (but I repeat myself) in America. The US was blamed for being so mean to Arabs that they were compelled to murder thousands of civilians.
A commission was hastily set up by congress and Democrats used it to try to find fault with the administration and attack it, spending as little time as possible to focus on who were the actual perpetrators and as much time as possible on what would cause Republicans political harm.
The difference between these events is about as stark as possible. 9/11 was far less predictable and there was no catastrophic series of mistakes and confusion, it was very straight forward and extremely difficult to stop. The Muslim terrorists that were responsible were apologized for, and the Bush administration even began to be blamed for deliberately letting or making it happen.
It was so sad to watch, how far politics had gotten in America by that point, and its only gotten more exaggerated as time has gone on. I'd like to believe, had the parties been reversed, that Republicans would have behaved better, but I'm highly skeptical. Its become so important to have power and that position to control so many trillions of dollars that there seems to be no honor or perspective whatsoever.
And that means we've lost a critical part of the soul of our nation.