The top ten worst decisions in history

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Byzantine fanatic, Nov 21, 2018.

  1. Byzantine fanatic Scholar of the West and East

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    What are some of the worst decisions in human history?

    I'll go first:

    1. Xerxes' invasion of Greece
    2. The Romans' decision to overrule caution and give battle at Cannae
    3. Crassus' invasion of Parthia
    4. The Roman decision to betray the Goths in 410, right before they sacked Rome
    5. The crucifixion of Jesus
    6. The decision of the Umayyads to kill the family of the Prophet at Karbala
    7. The Khwarezmian governor of Otrar's decision to provoke the Mongols by beheading the Mongol emmisaries
    8. Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812
    9. The Ottoman Empire's decision to enter ww1 on the side of Germany
    10. The decision of Germany to allow Hitler into power in 1933

    Those are just a few from the many possibilities. What are your top ten worst decisions of history?
     
  2. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    Give battle at Cannae with Varro in charge. Even if we assume that the Romans would be defeated no matter what with a reasonably competent commander the defeat would be not as catastrophic as in OTL ("to have Cannae you need Hannibal on one side and Varro on another").

    Oh please, just one of the many failed Roman expeditions with quite limited impact on anything except for removing one of the 3 potential contenders for a supreme power in the Republic (from which perspective perhaps the result was positive making things more straightforward).

    This assumes that Christianity was/is unquestionably bad thing. ;)

    Bad for whom?

    This assumes that without such a provocation Genghis would not invade Khwaresm which is highly optimistic, to put it mildly. BTW, the emissaries had been executed by Khwaresm Shah, the governor of Otrar killed the merchants and looted their caravan.
     
  3. Escape Zeppelin Well-Known Member

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    How was this a bad decision? Short term it removed a religious radical who was causing problems for Roman authority. Long term it gave the empire more religious unity and a renewed religious authority that had been weaker and waning since the later republic. For Rome, Christianity was almost certainly a gain.
     
  4. Youngmarshall Still Clowning Now

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    Impossible to judge but the xhosa cattle killing is a particuarly notable own goal.
     
  5. Byzantine fanatic Scholar of the West and East

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    On the subject of Jesus, he shouldn't have been crucified. It wasn't fair. The corrupt priests of the temple were in league with the Romans and they conspired against Jesus because they saw him as a threat to their authority. But Jesus was right to overturn the tables of the money changers at the temple. He should not have been crucified.

    2. Bad for everyone who took the Caliphate's Islamic aspect seriously. How could the Caliphate possibly claim to be upholding God's will, by massacring the direct descendents of the Prophet Muhammad?

    Obviously the Shia place great historical and symbolic significance on the disaster at Karbala, but really anyone who would have wanted the ummah to stay true to the principles of Islam can see that what happened there was a total betrayal of the legacy of the Prophet.

    The Umayyads turned the Caliphate into a monstrous exercise in hypocrisy. I think once they took over, any claim to genuine religious leadership evaporated.
     
  6. Skallagrim Not the one from YouTube. Different other fellow.

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    Worst for the people making them (as in: objectively produced some of the most terrible results in history for them or their compatriots) or worst for humanity in general? They may not always co-incide.

    For instance: Napoleon not jumping at the chance to happily accept the Frankfurt proposals and make peace with most everyone (which would leave Britain isolated and thus unable to really prosecute further hostilities effectively) was a terrible error. It was literally the best deal Napoleon was ever going to get, at that stage. Is this terrible in a more objective sense? That depends on whether you believe a bigger, Napoleonic France presumably lasting longer is a good thing or not.

    Anyway, I think that Carthage not throwing enough weight behind Hannibal's invasion was a terrible error, for the obvious reasons. Hannibal did everything he could with what he had, but he didn't have enough. Carthage could have provided more support, and could very well have won them the war. But they were unwilling to put everything on Hannibal, and he was left to be whittled down and defeated. Didn't work out for Carthage. Pinching their shekels and being cautious just didn't and couldn't win the day. (Again, we may ask: is this terrible for the world? Depends on your view of what would've happened had Hannibal won, and whether that would be better or worse than OTL.)


    I'm fairly confident in my opinion that an eventual war was far more likely than not, but that the extremely bloody nature of the Khan's campaign of vengeance was rooted in the OTL circumstances (since "don't fucking touch my emissaries or else" was a major point to him). So at the very least, not being so stupid as to kill those emissaries could've made things a whole lot less terrible as to how the war would be carried out.
     
  7. Fabius Maximus Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem

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    Don't forget that virtually all the Latin and Greek literature which survived the Dark Ages only did so because of Christian monks copying them out. Seems like a pretty big plus if you ask me.

    IIRC the Russians and Egyptians also executed Mongol emissaries... I can't help but wonder why being an ambassador for the Great Khan seems to have been such a high-risk job. Maybe they deliberately chose the most annoying people to send, in the hopes that they'd get themselves killed and so provide the Mongols with a casus belli.
     
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  8. UCB79 Bookworm, 1st class

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    I haven’t come up -yet- with an extended
    list but I strongly feel- on the 100th anni-
    versary of its ending- that the decisions(&
    blunders)that touched off WWI must be
    listed here, as such missteps are simply
    among the greatest blunders in human history. In the welter of bad decisions one
    stands out: Wilhelm II’s “blank check” to Austria Hungary. If the latter had been
    restrained- not encouraged- by its major
    ally maybe, just MAYBE, WWI could have
    been headed off(in fairness, some sort of
    European conflict was probably inevitable
    in the early 20th Century- but perhaps it
    need not have been as long, nor as so
    terribly destructive, as WWI was).
     
  9. Youngmarshall Still Clowning Now

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    The Shah of the Khwarezmian Empire had spent his entire life fighting successfully against steppe nomads and upon realising he was bordering another powerful one, felt there was no way a peace could last (regardless of the intentions of it's current rulers) due to him being rich and them being nomads.

    He knew there was no way he'd be able to invade the plains or win in pitched battles so he killed the envoys to draw the mongols into walled cities and forts where they could be defeated. The idea being that nomads when confronted with long sieges tended to either start fighting among themselves or retreated. He chose to fight on his terms because he felt a fight was inevitable and his state wasn't strong enough to take them on head on.

    And it was a really bad decision because he underestimated the mongols ability to cross deserts directly and conduct sieges efficiently. It was a bad call but I don't think the logic behind it (that long lasting peace was unlikely) was wrong.
     
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  10. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    You did not get it: Crucifixion (at least its religious aspect) became one of the cornerstones of Christianity. Without it, who would care about one more Jewish prophet?

    But it seemingly did not have any noticeable impact upon the Caliphate conquests and spreading of Islam (except for the future religious split) so the answer to your rhetoric question is "seemingly easily" (I have no idea how this was justified officially, just talking about the practical results).
     
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  11. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

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    The states built after world war one in the middle east and africa
     
  12. Clandango Disestablishmentarianist

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    Though causing trouble for Roman authorities would be stretching it. Still, the High Priest and his close associates set up a kangaroo court in the dead of night that apparently broke many Jewish laws, before trying to get Pilate to execute Jesus. Pilate was not very in favor of this, but it got to the point where he through up his hands since no defense was given by Jesus. Some have suggested this was uncharacteristic for him as he was fine with brutality, but that was usually against people actually questioning Roman authority, rather than a traveling preacher who told parables. Plus I don't think he was exactly friendly with the High Priests, and wouldn't just do something because they said to.
     
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  13. Clandango Disestablishmentarianist

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    Actually Paul refers to this in some letters put I the latter half of the New Testatement. The cruxifiction was important, but without the Resurrection would have been totally pointless. He basically says that without it everything they were doing was a lie and they were all idiots/fools(a deep insult back then).
     
  14. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    The direct vengeance had been limited to the culprits (governor of Otrar and Khwaresm Shah) and the rest was a normal Mongolian pattern of conquest comparable to one in China and Rus: the resisting (even in the case of a token resistance) places had been punished and those that submitted promptly had been spared. Some of the "classic" stories about the atrocities are exaggerated and keep in mind that the merchant class in Khwaresm included a lot of the Mongolian collaborators (including those in a looted caravan) and with the Mongolian interest in the trade routes a complete devastation of the region was not a productive idea.

    But you have a point about the emissaries because there was seemingly a cultural misunderstanding between the Mongols and quite a few of their opponents: while the Mongols considered the emissaries (at least their emissaries) as the sacred figures, it looks like this attitude was not shared to the West of the Mongolian Steppe. Not only in Khwaresm but as far as Russia killing an emissary was more or less a sign of displeasure with a message rather than a direct challenge.
     
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  15. Mightyboosh5 Well-Known Member

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    the bolsheviks not accepting the first peace deal of brest litovsk which would have maintained russian empires borders minus german gains in the war. WIthout the brital brest litovsk v2 and the civil war it initiated, the bolsheviks could have invaded europe when revolutions began to take off in late 1918 early 1919
     
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  16. Byzantine fanatic Scholar of the West and East

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    Ah yes, I've read the passage you're referring to. It is quite a shocking text! For that reason. Although of course the intended implication was that they weren't all wrong about what happened.
     
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  17. TRH Tyrannosaurus Rex Handler

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    Lucy the Australopithecus should have stayed in her tree. We wouldn't have all this climate change and nuclear proliferation nonsense breathing down our necks now.
     
  18. Byzantine fanatic Scholar of the West and East

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    I think you guys are looking at the Jesus issue from a different angle. If I understood right, your point is that the crucifixion of Jesus was good because of its historical consequences, notably the spread of Christianity.

    My point though is that only makes sense with the benefit of hindsight. At the time, Jesus' death would have been a calamity. Besides, I was thinking about it from a moral perspective. Jesus was a religious prophet who has a message associated with peace and other positive teachings (although this has been disputed; see Mathew 10:34 where Jesus says "I came not to bring peace but a sword". I'm not saying he was a militant revolutionary, my point is it's debated exactly what he believed). Personally, I have a very favourable opinion of Jesus and my point was the decision to crucify him was a bad decision, made for bad motives, by bad people. The historical consequences of it are another question (at least that's my take).
     
  19. Skallagrim Not the one from YouTube. Different other fellow.

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    None of all that self-awareness, art and abstract conceptualisation, either...

    That does bring me to a new suggestion: whoever came up with that whole anti-human "we should've stayed animals" nonsense made a truly terrible mistake in doing so, and every time someone repeats that crap (often while typing on a computer, irony of ironies) all sane human beings must suffer for it. ;)
     
  20. Unknown Member

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    The Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor, for one.
    Nazi Germany invading the Soviet Union.