Cataclysmic events often bring with them violent and abrupt endings to settled ages and long-established norms. Those absorbing the impact of these historical aftershocks rarely grasp the epochal changes in real time.
Who could have imagined during their commute home on the night of Nov. 21, 1963, that an event in Dallas the next day would shake the postwar order guaranteed by America’s victory in World War II? Even after Lee Harvey Oswald’s shots rang out from the Texas School Book Depository, could anyone have foreseen the collapse of such an ordered age soon overtaken by the anarchy of Vietnam, the murders of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, the race riots, Chicago, Kent State, Watergate, postindustrial rot and the cultural chaos set loose across the country by these events?
And could even the most insightful observer have foreseen — while staring at the billowing smoke set against New York’s brilliant September sky — the avalanche of strategic blunders set in motion by Osama bin Laden’s attack on the United States?
Of course not. But two wars, three presidents and 17 years later, the tragic lessons of that time are still lost on our leaders.
On Sept. 10, 2001, the United States dominated the world stage in a way no other country had since the height of the Roman and British empires.
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