History is full of political mistakes done by the king, emperor, and presidents. In the year 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain with many other European leaders signed the Munich Agreement which ultimately failed as World War II started soon after. In this agreement, they agreed to give a region of Czechoslovakia named Sudetenland to avoid the war and taking it by force. The population of Czechoslovakia included a population of around 3 million German-speaking people, which was almost 24 percent of the total population. They lived at the border regions and named it as Sudetenland. Sudeten German Party (SDP) was then formed by Konrad Henlein in 1933 and became the second-largest political party in Czechoslovakia in 1935. In 1938, the SDP kept 8 points including point of autonomy for Germans in front of the Czechoslovakia government and which was further denied. France and Britain’s government suggested the Czechoslovakia government fulfill the demands of German as they were not willing for any war against Germans. Neville Chamberlain traveled to Germany aiming for peace and met Adolf Hitler. After the long day discussion Hitler assured that post annexing Sudetenland they will not do any territorial claim on Czechoslovakia. But seeing the delay and disinterest of accepting the offer, Hitler issued Godesberg Memorandum stating to give Sudetenland to Germany by 2 pm 28th September or else they will take it by force. Finally, the Czechoslovak government agreed to the agreement and the Munich Agreement took place. Ultimately the reason for this long discussion and agreement was peace and no war, but still, World War II took place.
China also became an isolated country just because of the decision made by their rulers back in 1525. In the year the 1400s, China was having the biggest seagoing fleet in the world and was having around 3,500 ships. They have a history of trading with other countries and sea exploration. But everything in the era of 1400-1500 was changed. They started and believing the Confucian values which concentrated on self-sufficiency and power through virtue. China believed that they have everything in their land and don’t need to depend on any other country. Thus, under the Ming Dynasty, they followed Isolationism and destroyed all their ships in the treasure fleet and wanted to stop any kind of foreign trade. But this decision was not in favor of them in the future. Other countries exceeded China economically and technologically by involving in World trade.
Alexander the Great lost his empire after his death just because he was unsure of whom to make the next ruler. He was born on 20 July 356 BC and was the king of the ancient Greek Kingdom. He was never defeated in battle and was the strongest military commandant. He succeeded his father Philip II to the throne in 336 BC when he was only 20. Alexander invaded India in 326 BC by winning over Pauravas. Talking about his personal life, he married three times; Roxana daughter of the Sogdian out of love, and Stateira II and Parysatis II for political reasons. He has two sons, Heracles of Macedon from his mistress Barsine and Alexander IV of Macedon by Roxana. Alexander the Great was very close to his best friend, general and bodyguard Hephaestion. He was the dearest of all the king’s friends. Hephaestion death in 324 BC has impacted Alexander’s health drastically. Alexander’s death was sudden and unexpected. His death was a mystery as some say he was poisoned and others say he caught fever due to too much drinking of unmixed wine. When he was sick and unable to talk, his companions asked about whom he wants to bequeath his kingdom, he answered in low speech ‘to the strongest’. He had not taken anyone’s name to be the heir that led into many discussions and arguments post his death. Alexander IV and Philip III were made the joint kings which were not acceptable by many as they were infants.
The Spanish Armada was in the hands of someone who was having no experience in fighting in the sea or land. King Philip II elected Alonso Pérez de Guzmán as the 7th Duke of Medina Sidonia. The Spanish Armada was the navy of 130 ships sailed to invade England in 1588. King Philip II took this decision of electing Guzmán based on a good Roman Catholic Christian and the one who will follow the order. Although Guzmán tried to express his feelings of sea-sickness and fear of no knowledge of war plan and lack of military experience on the letter which never reached Philip II. After trying and giving his best, the Invincible Armada was defeated in the war with non-supportive weather.
Napoleon’s armies attempt to invade Russia was failed due to not preparing well advance for cold weather. Napoleon I was the commander for the Grand Armée with 685,000 soldiers making it the largest army. Many advice and suggestion were given to him that he ignored. Russians followed the scorched-earth strategy and burned crops, villages, and towns, leaving the Napoleon team with nothing to feed the army. Also, the Napoleon army was not prepared to face the winter season and cold wind became not bearable to them. Many of the soldiers lost their lives because of their lack of preparation. Napoleon’s team became too small and not armed properly, thus turned back from the battle.
Francisco Pizarro was the leader of the Spanish journey who came ahead to conquer the Inca Empire in 1532 with an army of 106-foot soldiers and 62 horsemen. Atahualpa having the troop of 80,000 men invited Pizarro to visit Cajamarca. Out of the overconfidence of being more powerful, Atahualpa arrived drunk and lost the Pizarro.
In 1950, Secretary of Defense Dean Acheson while describing the United States foreign policy omitted Korea from the defense perimeter, which suggested that for any fight in Korea, United States interference will be limited.
Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, planned to auction 395 tons of gold and reinvest since the gold price in 1999 was stagnant. Throughout 1999-2002, the sale of UK gold reserves was the policy followed by HM Treasury. It was believed that Brown’s thoughts were very strong, but undoubtedly, he made the mistake of announcing auction beforehand. The price of Gold started to drop and the UK received an average of $275 per ounce. The increase in gold prices caused the Euro to go high in value. Brown’s period of blunder from 1999 to 2002 was called as ‘Browns Bottom’.
On a tour to the Middle East in 2000, the German Chancellor Schröder attended Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem to pay respects to the 6 million Jews who died during the Holocaust. He was escorted by Israel’s prime minister at the time, Ehud Barak. As a ritual, he was asked to burn the flame of the holocaust to honor the Holocaust victims. But unknowingly he turned the knob in the wrong way which made the flame went out. Israel’s Prime Minister Barak tried to help him, but he was also unsuccessful.
Undeclared war at sea in the duration of 1798 to 1800 was named as Quasi-War which happened because of the situation of the disagreement between the United States and Republican France called an XYZ affair. The war continued for two years and destroyed each other’s privateers and ships in the West Indies.
In 1921, the order was passed by President Harding in which Navy petroleum reserves at Wyoming and California were transferred from the Navy Department to the Department of the Interior. Albert Bacon Fall Secretary of the Interior planned to lease the petroleum reserves and return took a bribe in the form of loan and gifts. An investigation was done and Fall was found guilty in 1929.
In 1841 William Henry Harrison, the 9th President of the United States, gave the longest speech ever of 8,445 words. It was freezing weather and he was not wearing any winter clothes like overcoat or hat. The speech took around 2 hours, which in return has slowly affected Harrison’s health and he died due to pneumonia in exactly one month after taking the oath.
The Profumo affair was involving the Secretary of State of War John Profumo and Christine Keeler an upcoming model. It was assumed that Profumo must have revealed some security secrets to Keeler and that must be shared outside.
White House guard’s new uniform was designed by President Richard Nixon by getting inspired by other country’s uniforms. The new uniform got lots of criticism and ultimately was changed later.
Would you like to read more about this topic? This book might interest you: History of Big Political Mistakes.