There is a universal law that everyone agrees on: for whatever action, there is always an opposite reaction. This is most true in physics but certainly applies to our daily lives.
Imagine the Butterfly Effect where it is said that, in one part of the world, a butterfly would flap its wings and it would cause a devastating hurricane in the opposite side of the globe. Our actions and the actions of others always have consequences to it, good or bad. It can be Karmic or a kind of domino effect.
In this list, we examine the actions of people who, in recorded history, have completely changed or greatly affected it with the decisions – or indecisions – that they made.
Number Ten: The Great Depression
Who could ever forget that time when Stock Market crashed and sent the international economy spiraling out of control, leaving thousands of people unemployed and hungry?
Today’s economic recession is nothing compared to the financial meltdown of 1929. It may have been unthinkable back then because of the speed at which the United States economy was accelerating in terms of industry and its economy. However, on September 5th, 1929, one man saw this great crash coming.
Economist Roger Babson delivered a speech where he predicted that an impending economic crash was just around the corner. Unfortunately, the business community as well as fellow economists shrugged the warning off claiming it to be impossible. Two months later, over $5 billion was wiped out of the market – an amount, in today’s standards is beyond calculating.
According to records, Babson had been warning everyone about the crash for years and what it may precipitate and when people started believing in him, it was already far too late.
Number Nine: The Sinking of the RMS Lusitania
In some sense, the sinking of the Lusitania was not unexpected. However, the events that led to this disaster are incredible enough that it lands number nine on this list.
It was at the height of the First World War when the Lusitania was given more than enough warning by the German army to stop anyone in their right mind from sailing straight to their doom. For several weeks, the German army published several advertisements in newspapers including the New York Times warning the entire world of the ship’s numbered days.
In a most brash attempt, the Lusitania set sail from New York to England. Incidentally, news of the ship’s departure sat side by side with the German ad in the New York Times.
As an exercise of caution and to avoid innocent people getting caught in the crossfire, the British government warned the captain of the Lusitania to avoid areas around the British shores where German U-boats have been known to actively patrol; and should the ship pass through those waters, the captain was strongly urged to zigzag his way through. Unfortunately for the passengers of the Lusitania, the captain ignored these warnings and advice from the British government. The RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat, taking with it the lives of 1,195 people.
Number Eight: Asbestos Warnings
It may seem trivial to talk about the dangers of asbestos in this list and it would also seem that it may not have had much of an impact around the world as the Great Depression, but this silent killer has slowly claimed hundreds, if not thousands, of lives since it was conceived in the 19th century.
Known for its strength and resistance to fire, asbestos manufacturers have made a fortune selling this product to the public with no regard to its dangerous implications to an individual’s health; and for nearly a century, asbestos has cropped up almost everywhere and has been used for almost anything.
However, people have been suspicious of the product since the early 1900s because of the high-rate of illnesses that were reported around towns where asbestos was mined and manufactured.
In 1938, due to public alarm, asbestos manufacturers commissioned a study that proved that death by the product was airborne. These same manufacturers at that time swept the undeniable link between asbestos and fatal illnesses under the rug. Saying that there was “no proof” that links asbestos to diseases such as lung cancer, many workers in their factories either suffered horribly from the chemicals or were let go of their companies leaving them impoverished.
Today, even as a great majority of the globe, has banned the use and manufacturing of asbestos, many companies still refuse to compensate their dying employees as they continue to keep a firm stand that there is nothing that connects asbestos to their employees’ illnesses.
Number Seven: The Rwandan Genocide
800,000 Tutsis and Moderate Hutus lost their lives during a bloody ethnic cleansing and massacre that was dubbed as the Rwandan Genocide.
Beginning in April 6th, 1994, the genocide was led by Hutu tribesmen with the objective to attack another local tribe called the Tutsis; however, not only did the Hutu plan to massacre the Tutsis, they also planned a purge of their own tribesmen who were protecting the Tutsis.
It was a Belgian ambassador to Rwanda who uncovered the plot and revealed that the plan had been started since at least two years before. Professor Filip Reyntjens, another Belgian, appeared before the Belgian senate and revealed that the Hutus were assembling and operating Death Squads to carry out the genocide and implicated a Rwandan Army Colonel named Theoneste Bagasora as one of its leaders. Later on, Bagasora was found to have indeed commanded the genocide.
In January 1994, four months before the catastrophic event, General Romeo Dellaire, commander of the UN troops at Rwanda, sent what is now known as the “Genocide Fax” to the United Nations, warning the organization that the Hutus, much like the revelations of the Belgian ambassador and Professor Reyntjens, were planning a large scale attack on the Tutsis as well as their own tribesmen. In the fax, General Dellaire requested for more troops to be sent to the region in order to attack a Hutu arms cache and prevent the massacre from happening. The UN, sadly, ignored the plea and told the general to inform the Rwandan government instead which was filled with the same people and officials planning the genocide.
The same month, General Dellaire was able to seize an arms cache that was placed in the custody of the UN and Rwandan Troops – the same Rwandan troops who were training the Death Squads and bands of rebels who directly took part in the genocide.
Number Six: Fukushima Meltdown
The 2011 earthquake that shook Japan left thousands homeless. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake not only rocked the country but it also brought a giant tsunami that devastated areas near its coastlines. It may seem like it was already the worst thing that could ever happen to Japan. What happened right after, however, was more sinister.
Following the earthquake and the tsunami was the worst nuclear accident in history since Chernobyl that no one ever expected to happen except for one Koji Minoura.
Like a scene from a movie, Minoura was investigating a reference in an ancient poem about a tsunami that happened just northeast of the country. Digging through records and historical texts, Minoura discovered an account about an earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands in 869 AD dubbes as the Jogan Event.
Investigating the region in the 1980s, Minoura found evidence that the area was “routinely” destroyed by tsunami every 1000 years and it was already due for another one.
Over the next 20 years, Minoura wrote reports and produced countless studies warning about the inevitable destruction of the Fukushima area. Published in journals and magazines, his articles and research were completely ignored by his peers and by the public.
To this day, the effects Fukushima’s nuclear power plant meltdown spreads and reports and studies have already confirmed that the waters near and surrounding the area have dangerously lethal amounts of radiation that is slowly spreading into the northern parts of the Pacific Ocean.
Number Five: The Kuwait Invasion
The early 1990s saw the rise of soaring oil prices because of unstable political situations in the Middle East and in the morning of August 2nd 1990, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops marched into the borders of neighboring Kuwait; an invasion that virtually took overnight with Kuwait not giving much of a fight after its head of state fled into the desert.
It was reported that the plan by Iraq to invade Kuwait had been in the works five years beforehand and was said to be just the first phase of Saddam Hussein’s plan – though futile -to secure Saudi Arabian oil wells in the region.
Ample warning to the US government was given by both the CIA and US Military Intelligence. Unfortunately, the government chose to look the other way and even granted Saddam a $1.2 billion loan days before the lightning invasion. The US government’s refusal to take a stand against Saddam’s plans only gave the dictator more fortitude to proceed with his plans, believing that he had the US on his side.
When the situation spun out of hand and gained the attention of the international community, the US government stepped in but was initially unprepared.
The Iraqi forces were ejected out of Kuwait only after the US-led United Nations contingent landed in Kuwait thus beginning the Gulf War.
Along with 248 UN troops and 25,000 Iragi soldiers, the largest fatality count fell on Iraqi civilians which numbered 100,000 after the war. In the following years after the conflict, a million more Iraqi civilians lost their lives due to sanctions that were placed on Iraq.
Number Four: Wilson’s War
US President Woodrow Wilson may very well have been the catalyst that brought about the devastations of First and Second World Wars, the Rise of Communism in Europe, as well as the Vietnam War.
The events of how the First World War began and how the US played a key part in it is numerous and is a complicated web of scenarios like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book.
When trouble and conflict was already brewing in Europe due to discontent from different countries and the incompetence of several generals and leaders, President Woodrow Wilson claimed the role of impartial arbiter in order to bring the war, which has already erupted by then, to its conclusion without having to directly send US troops into battle – but when Germany and its allies seem to be getting the upper hand, Wilson and his members of cabinet had to make a decision because they wanted victory to go to Great Britain and France.
After his presidential re-election in 1916, he ordered congress to declare war against Germany a year later despite the fact that Germany or its allied countries were threatening or attacking the United States as well as a large population of the US wanted their government to stay out of the war.
After Germany’s defeat, an armistice was created in 1918. Unfortunately for Wilson and his rhetoric, his idealism was buried by the territorial ambitions of Great Britain and France after decimating Germany and the former Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires; a devastation that drove many European countries into revolution and civil war.
Had Wilson not urged the US congress to declare war against Germany in 1917 and listened to reason, the US may not have assumed the mantle of being the Global Police throughout the remainder of the 20th Century and still continues on to this day. His decision therefore created a domino effect that would cost the lives of millions of people in the Second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War; and not to mention 75-years of Soviet Communist rule over Russia and large parts of Eastern and Central Europe.
Number Three: The Rise of Adolf Hitler
After Germany’s defeat in the First World War, France decided to place a fine on Germany in 1919 that was unimaginably large that, had not the Second World War broken out, the country would be paying it until 2010.
John Maynard Keynes, a British economist, strongly believed that it was the most effective way to get disastrous results. By absolutely crippling the German economy with heavy sanctions, the Allied Nations would no doubt trigger economic collapse on a country that was still reeling from a war.
Keynes therefore lobbied governments and presented them with articles to convince them to rethink their move saying, in almost prophetic words, that if the Allies’ objective is to drive Central Europe into debilitating debt and poverty, then vengeance from the subjugated nations will be reaped through revolutions and conflict.
Believing that Keynes was out of his mind, his pleas and warnings were left in the dust. True to his prediction, the German economy practically evaporated and civil unrest spread like wildfire, opening the doors to extremism – and in a small beer hall, a rejected art student by the name of Adolf Hitler, decided to try his hand in politics; a decision that cost the lives of innocent millions.
Number Two: World War II
The Treaty of Versailles ended the First World War in 1919. Included in the Treaty was a hefty sum of money that the Allied nations imposed on Germany as restitution and, as an ulterior move in the part of the Allies, was a means to make sure that Germany would not have money to declare a war of retribution.
Soon enough, Germany’s economy collapsed and German society was destroyed by inflation and a wave of unemployment.
A handful of people could see how ineffective the conditions of the Treaty were. British economist, John Maynard Keynes, believed the Treaty held no water and was practically dead even before it was signed. Another was a French army commander, Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch. “This is not peace,” Foch said. “It is an armistice for 20 years.”
Foch’s warning fell on deaf ears and 20 years later, Germany lit the fires that would start the Second World War. Now formidable, the German army – as part of their campaign – invaded Paris and staged attacks in England that would leave the country and most of Europe in ruins until 1945.
Number One: 9/11
In 2012, years after the tragic events of September 11th, the New York Times published the results of an investigation showing that the Bush administration, in 2001, had knowledge of an impending terror attack on American soil.
Far from being caught by surprise, the report states that the US government had known of the attack but chose to be tied up with bureaucracy instead of preventing it from happening.
As early as June 2001, there was already intelligence that Al-Qaeda strikes on the US were imminent. The intelligence was considered a certainty and known by the CIA.
However, politicians in the Pentagon refused to acknowledge the reports and dismissed it as a fabrication by Saddam Hussein, whom the US government were watching closely.
According to the New York Times’ report, the warnings by the CIA were allegedly downplayed and the agency was practically reduced to begging the President to take notice and take action. It was later on raised to extreme levels of urgency on June 29th, July 9th, July 24th, and August 6th.
With the government’s almost obsessive watch over Iraq and Saddam Hussein and its dismissal of the constant warnings, it therefore resulted in the worst and most deadly terrorist atrocity in the 21st Century committed on American soil only because it decided not to take its intelligence service seriously.