10 Huge Screw-Ups That Changed The Course of History

10 Screw-ups That Changed The Course of History Bay of Pigs By most accounts, even the CONCEPTION of the Bay of Pigs secret invasion of Cuba was colossally missguided, since JFK made the call to launch a covert invasion of Cuba based on faulty CIA intelligence But then even so, the execution was hardly exemplary

The B-26 bombers disguised as Cuban planes largely missed their shots and alerted Castro to the impending invasion That led Kennedy to cancel the second air strike but not the ground invasion, which didn’t make much headway on its own As if that wasn’t enough, the air support JFK did later provide was early because of a confusion over the time difference between Nicaragua and Cuba As a result, there was no covering fire, it was handily shot down and the invaders were almost all killed or caught The tactical consensus is that any invasion would have to have been all-out to succeed, but this approach did nothing but goad the USSR General Secretary Khrushchev into sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis – possibly the closest we ever came to nuclear annihilation

All because of mistakes while building intelligence New Zealand Wars Let’s face it, the British Empire wasn’t exactly the most just administrative body in history But unlike most colonial tensions, this one is mostly just an example of why you should check your work Anyway, back in 1840, the Empire under Queen Victoria was in talks with the Maori people of New Zealand, who sought protection from the unscrupulous land deals of others trying to settle on the island The Brits obliged with the treaty of Waitangi, which covered a series of provisions included instituting the crown’s sovereignty, Maori rights as subjects and the sole right of the crown to purchase land

It was a good deal for them, basically Trouble is that the text wasn’t exactly consistent between the English and Maori translations – particularly these words which relate to ownership and sovereignty As a result, the Maori leaders signed an agreement that they didn’t ACTUALLY agree to, as it gave the Empire FAR too much power This caused tensions, apprehensions, skirmishes and eventually the New Zealand Wars from 1845 to 1873 – all of which still have an impact on government-Maori relations to this day Pickett’s Charge The American Civil War is often discussed as an ideological struggle, whether it’s freedom vs

slavery or in some circles, federalism vs states’ rights However, the pivotal battle appears to have been a case of screw-up vs regular military competence On July 3rd 1863, the Confederate army reached its “high watermark” against union forces – in other words the furthest point reached into enemy territory But unfortunately, that’s about the best achievement for Pickett’s charge, named after one of three generals involved who apparently drew the shortest straw ever The plan was to soften up the union soldiers with what was at that time the largest artillery barrage ever

But unfortunately for the Confederates, that impressively huge assault completely missed for the most part As a result, when the main charge began, the unionists had the numbers to chop down their foes in swathes with musket and artillery fire of their own

With around 1,100 killed and 3,800 captured, the futile and arguably avoidable loss damaged morale to an irreparable point and likely sealed the fate of the south Fall of the Berlin Wall Some historical events are etched in the minds of entire generations The moon landing, JFK’s assassination, Pearl Harbour The fall of the Berlin Wall is up there, and to many people the hallmark of the Soviet Union’s demise But while it was momentous, it wasn’t actually intentional

In 1989, USSR reforms were opening countries and introducing some market-friendly elements In other words, band-aids on the holes on a sinking ship That included lifting travel restrictions on East Germans, who were pretty desperate to see friends and family over the wall But crucially, it was meant to be announced at 4am and introduced over time However, East German politician Gunter Schabowski apparently missed that, since he made the announcement in the middle of the day

Not only that, but while he was answering questions about the convoluted policy, he said it would be enacted “immediately” That excited a LOT of East Germans, who took it as permission to head straight to the west, but here’s the kicker: no one told the guards It’s not hard to see how such chaos could ensue when crowds inexplicably charge at your military posting Discovery of Australia You probably learned in school that modern Australia began when British colonists decided it’d make a nice solution to the empire’s overcrowded prisons Well, two points there

Firstly, the prisoners were actually skilled tradesmen who received perks for their help in colonising And secondly, the British settlement was only possible because of a major missed opportunity You see, 182 years before British colonisation, the first confirmed landing on the island came at the hands of the Dutch East India Company Then the largest company in the world, the organisation sent a ship captained by Willem Janszoon in 1606 That landing enabled the first European exploration efforts and even some limited cartography, but a run-in with the locals that killed 9 kind of dampened things

That, combined with dashed hopes that “New Holland” was filled with gold and giants, led to major disappointment among future dutch explorers Despite calls from some traders to establish an outpost for business with Asia, reality had ruined the hype In other words, the original discoverers scared themselves out of* major colonial power So who knows, if hopes weren’t quite so high, Australians could have spoken Dutch! The Challenger Disaster Before 1986, the prospect of space travel was one of almost unmitigated wonder – save a little bit of cold war antagonism But after the Challenger rocket exploded in the atmosphere and killed its 7-person crew, the world never looked at the stars in quite the same way again

The 3-year suspension of the shuttle program and subsequent caution can be seen either as a necessary pull back from overly-cavalier space race attitudes or a tragic hindrance to our astronautical potential, but in any case, it was the result of an entirely preventable mistake The principal cause of the disaster was that rubber o-ring seals on the fuel system failed due to the extreme cold on launch day and they hadn’t been tested Challenger engineer Bob Ebeling made repeated warnings that the o-rings would fail, but on the advice of manufacturer Morton Thiokol, NASA dismissed the claims and decided to continue with the launch As a result of Morton Thiokol’s mistaken confidence and NASA’s insistence on continuing with what was apparently a doomed venture, space travel attitudes have been fundamentally altered to this day D-Day As you know, D-Day was one of the pivotal battles of World War II, and quite possibly the turning point to an Allied victory

But while the allied efforts deserve the utmost respect, it’s worth pointing out that Germany’s loss came as a result of quite a few bad judgement calls Famously, commander Erwin Rommel had concluded that there was no way allied forces would land at Normandy when waters were so fierce, so he decided to head home for his wife’s 50th birthday He returned as soon as he could, but Rommel’s early absence left German troops in the lurch at possibly the worst time imaginable He dropped the ball big time, basically On top of that, the Fuhrer himself was out of action during the whole affair after a late night with Goebbels and Eva Braun

Since the allies had made a habit of using diversionary tactics, he ordered his aides only to wake him in the case of confirmed attacks As a result, he was left sleeping as a pivotal struggle between democracy and fascism turned against him Well, as they say, you snooze you lose 200,000 troops 3 Aristagoras Around 500 BC, the Persian tyrant Aristagoras sought to conquer the revolting island of Naxos in an attempt to impress King Darius the Great That was a bit of an omnishambles because Aristagoras insulted his own navy leader, who then sabotaged the mission On top of that, since Aristagoras borrowed forces from Darius’ brother and got them killed, he was fully expecting swift punishment from the king SO, in a somewhat misguided attempt to save his skin, Aristagoras asked for help AGAIN This time to revolt against Persia

Sparta wisely declined, but Athens not-so-wisely agreed To his credit, Aristagoras did manage to rule independently for a time, and he even set up democracy But when the Athenians eventually fled from the conflict out of fear, the rebellion was stepped on like a fine Persian rug Aristagoras’ mistakes caused Darius to vow revenge on the Athenians, leading to the Greco-Persian wars, including such favourites as the Battle of Marathon, Salamis and Thermopylae That’s the movie 300 to you and me

Without that blunder, those wars may never have happened, and the threat of Persia may never have led Alexander the Great to conquer it In other words, that landscape of history could have been vastly different, and we never would have heard Gerard Butler shout “This Is Sparta” Christopher Columbus You probably know where I’m going with this Christopher Columbus wanted to reach Japan to trade, but instead found what he called the West Indies – better known as the Americas and the Caribbean That then led to centuries of colonisation, slavery and pretty much the foundation of the western world as we know it

The blunder is pretty obvious, but there’s an interesting story behind it People often think that Christopher Columbus believed the world was flat Well, while we now know that it definitely IS thanks to the Flat Earth Society, Columbus was, in reality, a misguided spherist Poor fool But no seriously, the real reason that the explorer messed up his planned journey to Japan and landed in the Americas was that his maths was wildly off

Columbus rejected the accepted Earth calculations made by ancient Greek mathematician Ptolemy, and instead used those made by his contemporary Marinus of Tyre So he believed the earth was small enough that Asia could be reached easily by crossing the Atlantic So there you go, listen in maths class, otherwise you might inadvertently cause centuries of injustice No one wants that Mokusatsu If you’ve ever tried learning Japanese, you’ll know it’s pretty hard to get your head around for someone used to the latin alphabet

So it’s unsurprising that when so many aspects rely on context, mistakes can happen Even so, this was about as unfortunate as it gets In 1945, before dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Allied leaders issued an ultimatum to the Japanese government In doing so they made the not-so-subtle indication that any negative response would invite “prompt and utter destruction” Unsurprisingly, the severity led to ravenous curiosity over the response

So, when the Japanese press asked Kantaro Suzuki for comment, he replied with “Mokusatsu”, which can mean either “no comment” or “not worthy of comment” depending on the context However, in their eagerness to relay the situation, the international press reported that Suzuki had dismissed Eisenhower’s threat, going with the latter translation rather than the former The reality was that the Japanese premiere hadn’t formulated a response yet, but the damage had already been done, and well, you know what happened 10 days later That was 10 screw-ups that changed the course of history What other landmark events came from bone-headed mistakes? Let us know in the comments and make sure to like and subscribe, and while you’re at it, check out this great Alltime10s video on screen now

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