10 Memorable Moments in United Nations History

10 Memorable Moments in United Nations History

1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted (1948)

From its earliest meetings, the U.N. General Assembly sought to ensure that atrocities on the scale of those that occurred during World War II would never happen again. On December 10, 1948, the assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which built on the principles of the U.N. Charter and served as a road map to safeguarding the rights of all individuals throughout the world. Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, led the drafting committee and was recognized as the declaration’s guiding force.

2. First full-fledged peacekeeping force deployed (1956)

Though the U.N. Charter does not specifically mention the use of international armed forces, under the control of the Security Council, to mediate between warring parties, this type of peacekeeping has been an important part of the U.N. mission since 1956. The U.N. General Assembly met in its first emergency special session that November in order to address the ongoing Suez Crisis, which had begun when Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal Company, a joint British-French enterprise. After pressure from the United States led Britain and France to accept a ceasefire and end their short-lived military action against Egypt, the first United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was deployed to supervise the end of hostilities and the withdrawal of British, French and Israeli forces.

3. World Food Program established (1961)

In 1960, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed to the U.N. General Assembly that “a workable scheme should be devised for providing food aid through the U.N. system.” The following year, the assembly approved the establishment of the World Food Program (WFP) on a three-year experimental basis. The WFP got off the ground immediately, however, providing urgently needed food supplies to the victims of a 1962 earthquake (Iran) and hurricane (Thailand), as well as to some 5 million refugees resettling in Algeria. Today, though there are still some 805 million starving people in the world, the efforts of the WFP have helped that number fall by more than 100 million in the past decade. As of 2014, the program provides food to some 90 million people every year, including 58 million children.

4. UNICEF wins Nobel Peace Prize (1965)

The creation of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) dates back to 1946, when it grew out of the pressing need to provide food, clothing and health care to the children of war-ravaged Europe. The program became a permanent part of the United Nations in 1953. In 1959, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which represented the first major international consensus on the fundamental principles of children’s rights, including shelter, education, health care, and good nutrition. In awarding UNICEF its Peace Prize in 1965, the Nobel Committee lauded the organization for promoting “brotherhood among the nations” and for realizing “that children provide the key to the future.” Now in more than 190 countries, UNICEF remains the world’s leading organization for children.

5. Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968)

The U.N.’s first resolution, adopted way back in January 1946, focused on peaceful uses of atomic energy and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. Although this landmark treaty, approved in June 1968, ultimately did not stop nuclear proliferation, it represented a major success for advocates of arms control (especially coming in the middle of the Cold War) and set a precedent for international cooperation on the issue. Since then, nuclear-armed nations such as South Africa and Kazakhstan have voluntarily agreed to give up their atomic weapons, while other countries have vowed to end nuclear-research programs and submit to inspections by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency.

6. International Women’s Year (1975)

Support for women’s rights was actually built into the United Nations charter. Article 1 reads, “To achieve international co-operation…in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” The General Assembly designated 1975 as International Women’s Year, and organized the first World Conference on Women in Mexico City. Since 2010, the U.N Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (known as U.N. Women) continues its efforts to support women’s rights, particularly the need to end violence against women. In 2014, U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson launched the groundbreaking HeForShe campaign, which calls on men to fight for gender equality and combat violence and discrimination against women.

7. UNESCO names 12 initial sites for protection (1978)

In 1978, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published its first list of 12 world heritage sites–those man-made monuments or natural areas deserving of special protection due to their “outstanding value.” Aside from the original list, which included the Galapagos Islands and Yellowstone National Park, UNESCO now protects nearly 1,000 sites worldwide, helping set the standard for the preservation of some of our most important historic monuments and natural treasures.

8. Kyoto Protocol (1997)

This international treaty, named for the Japanese city where it was adopted, committed 41 countries plus the European Union to reducing the emission of dangerous greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. Called by many the most significant environmental treaty in history, its success would be hampered by the fact that three major carbon-emitting nations–China, India and the United States–do not abide by the protocol. In 2012, participants voted to extend the Kyoto Protocol until 2020, and pledged to create a new climate-change treaty requiring all greenhouse-gas producing countries, including those not bound by the Kyoto Protocol, to limit and reduce their emissions.

9. Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS (2001)

Since 1996, U.N. efforts to combat acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and its cause, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), have been coordinated by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, representing some 10 other U.N. system agencies. In June 2001, a special session of the U.N. General Assembly adopted this Declaration of Commitment, which laid out specific national targets and global actions aimed at reversing an epidemic that had caused boundless suffering and death worldwide. Today, UNAIDS remains the leading advocate for global action against HIV/AIDS. In mid-2014, the program’s report showed the lowest levels of new HIV infections so far this century (2.1 million), as well as a drop of some 35 percent in AIDS-related deaths since 2005.

10. First-ever U.N. Emergency Health Mission (2014)

To combat an unprecedented Ebola epidemic in West Africa–including nearly 30,000 people infected and 11,000 killed–the United Nations established its first-ever emergency health mission, the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) in September 2014. The temporary mission provided financial, logistical and human resources to the hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, in an effort to bring the number of Ebola cases to zero. UNMEER closed in July 2015, turning oversight of the U.N. emergency Ebola response over to the World Health Organization (WHO).


Top 10 Failures of the United Nations

Formed at the conclusion of World War II, the United Nations seeks to maintain international security and peace, while developing friendly relations amongst nations. Consisting of 192 members (for now), the UN has been largely successful in ending various conflicts and wars. Despite their success, they have also witnessed a number of catastrophic failures, resulting in millions of innocent civilian deaths. Below are ten failures of the UN since its inception.

Many experts agree that &ldquomodern&rdquo terrorism began with the 1968 hijacking of El Al Israel Flight 426 by a Palestinian terrorist organization. The United Nations condemned the action, but failed to take any further action. These terrorist acts continued throughout the remainder of the twentieth century, with no reaction from the UN a simple condemnation was as far as they would go.

With the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the UN finally took action, outlawing terrorism and punishing those responsible for the attacks. Unfortunately, this applied only to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. State-funded terrorist programs&mdashsuch as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Mossad&mdashwere unaffected. Nations that support groups that are widely linked to terrorism, such as Iran, are not held accountable specifically for these actions. To this date, the UN still does not have a clear definition of terrorism, and they have no plans to pursue one.

At the creation of the UN in 1945, the United States was the only nation in the world to own and test nuclear weapons. In 1970, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty was signed by 190 nations, including five nations that admitted to owning nuclear weapons: France, England, Russia, China, and the US.

Despite this treaty, nuclear stockpiles remain high, and numerous nations continue to develop these devastating weapons, including North Korea, Israel, Pakistan, and India. The failure of the non-proliferation treaty details the ineffectiveness of the United Nations, and their inability to enforce crucial rules and regulations on offending nations.

The small island nation of Sri Lanka experienced a bloody civil war lasting from 1983 to 2009, pitting the militant, separatist Tamil Tigers against government forces. In the final months of the war, the opposing sides were fighting in the heavily populated northeast coastline, a designated safe zone.

The fighting forced 196,000 people to flee, and trapped over 50,000 civilians. Independent experts urged the Human Rights Council of the UN to investigate claims of war crimes, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon acknowledged being &ldquoappalled&rdquo by the situation, but the United Nations made no attempts to intervene on behalf of the civilian population. From January to April of 2009, over 6,500 civilians were killed in this so-called &ldquosafe-zone&rdquo.

Many nations plead for support from the United Nations in times of desperation and war. To the oppressed, the blue helmets of UN peacekeepers represent stability and safety. Unfortunately, this was not the case in numerous countries in the 1990s. Reports from Bosnia, Kosovo, Cambodia, Haiti, and Mozambique revealed a shocking trend areas with peacekeeping forces saw a rapid rise in child prostitution.

Often, soldiers would reward the children with candy or small sums of money, so they could claim the sexual relationship was prostitution rather than rape. Senior officials in the United Nations refused to condemn the peacekeepers, as they feared this public shaming would discourage nations from joining peacekeeping forces.

The United Nations Security Council consists of fifteen nations, five of which are permanent: France, Russia, China, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The other ten nations are elected to serve two-year terms. The five permanent members enjoy the luxury of veto power when a permanent member vetoes a vote, the Council resolution cannot be adopted, regardless of international support. Even if the other fourteen nations vote yes, a single veto will beat this overwhelming show of support.

The most recent use of the veto was by China and Russia, on July 19th, 2012. The Security Council attempted to evoke chapter VII sanctions from the United Nations Charter to intervene and prevent genocide in Syria. But the vetoes by China and Russia halted any international intervention. Since the Syrian Civil War began, an estimated 60,000 civilians have been killed, with thousands more displaced.

This 1995 Bosnian War massacre was the single worst act of mass murder on European soil since World War II. After an ethnic cleansing campaign led by the Serbs targeted the Bosniaks, a largely Muslim community, the United Nations designated Srebrenica a safe-zone in 1993. Militarized units in the zone were forced to disarm, and a peacekeeping force was put in place, consisting of six hundred Dutch soldiers. The Serbs then surrounded the safe-zone with tanks, soldiers, and artillery pieces.

With the zone surrounded, supply lines were slow-moving at best. The UN forces were running low on ammunition, fuel, and food, as the Serbs continued to build an army around Srebrenica.

In July, Serbian forces invaded the area, forcing the small UN team back. As many as 20,000 Bosniak refugees fled to the UN compound in Potocari, seeking protection from the advancing Serbs. Despite the UN peacekeeping force present, Serbian soldiers entered the camp, raping Bosniak women and murdering freely while the Dutch peacekeepers did nothing. By July 18th, 7,800 Bosniaks were dead, due largely to an ill-equipped and unprepared UN force.

Ruling Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge practiced an extreme form of Communism, as dictated by their borderline-psychotic leader Pol Pot. Any suspected enemies were executed, including professionals and intellectuals. Ethnic Vietnamese, Ethnic Chinese, and Christians were executed en masse.

In 1979, the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia to oust the Khmer Rouge and end the massacre. Pol Pot was forced in exile, and a new government was put in place in Cambodia. Shockingly, the United Nations refused to recognize this new government because it was backed by Vietnam, which had recently ended a decade-long conflict with the United States. Until 1994, the United Nations recognized the Khmer Rouge as the true government of Cambodia, despite the fact that they had killed 2.5 million Cambodians, amounting to 33% of their total population.

The Cold War exemplifies the failure behind the United Nations Charter. With the atrocities of World War II still fresh in their minds, the original founders aimed to foster human rights for all citizens of the world. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was established, which was binding to all nations, along with the Convention Against Genocide.

Almost immediately, the USSR disregarded these. Civic rights were virtually non-existent. Stalin continued to rule with an iron fist, silencing all opponents. In numerous Soviet Bloc nations, uprisings demanding the rights established in the UDHR were crushed with force. With the United Nations unwilling to act upon such atrocities, the words in the charter were rendered meaningless for those who needed them the most.

In 2003, the unstable nation of Sudan erupted in conflict, as various militia groups criticized and attacked the government for oppressing non-Arabs. Early in the war, rebel forces defeated the Sudanese military in more than thirty battles. Seeing that defeat was imminent, the government funded the Janjaweed, a group of Arab militants. By 2005, the Janjaweed were carrying out attacks on populated villages using artillery and helicopters, prompting condemnation by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Despite this condemnation, the UN did not enter Sudan, instead urging members of the African Union to intervene.

As the African Union attempted an intervention, it became apparent that the Sudanese military was destroying civilian populations. Reports emerged revealing that Sudanese military planes were painted white, to resemble UN humanitarian aircraft, only to drop bombs on villages. It was not until 2006 that 200 UN soldiers were dispatched to the area. Despite their limited presence, fighting continued until 2010. In seven years, an estimated 300,000 Sudanese civilians were killed.

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 details the gross inability of the United Nations to carry out its sworn duty to maintain peace and security. Following the Rwandan Civil War in the early 1990s, tensions between two ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsis, were at a dangerous high. In 1993, UN peacekeeping forces entered the nation, attempted to secure the capital and enable humanitarian aid. The peacekeeping forces were not authorized to use military maneuvers to achieve these goals.

In January of 1994, a cable was sent from the Canadian Force Commander to the UN headquarters detailing the imminent threat of genocide by Hutu mobs on Tutsi minorities. The Security Council never received the cable, and the notice was largely ignored. Following the loss of eighteen American servicemen in the Battle of Mogadishu, the United States was largely unwilling to help in any intervention.

Most shocking in this series of events is the abandonment of a school by Belgian peacekeepers after ten soldiers were murdered. Thousands had flocked to the school for UN protection, and roaming gangs of Hutu supporters killed nearly all of them. Close to one million Rwandans were killed in the genocide, amounting to twenty percent of the population.


The 50 key dates of world history

Important Dates of World History

3000
Building of the Great Pyramid.

776
First Olympiad in Greece.

753
Foundation of Rome.

490
Greeks defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon.

360
The period of Aristotle and Plato.

332
Egypt conquered by Alexander.

323
Alexander dies at Babylon.

214
Work on the Great Wall of China begins.

55
Julius Ceasar attacks Great Britain.

4
Birth of Jesus Christ.

29
Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

375
Huns' invasion of Europe.

570
Prophet Mohammed born at Mecca.

622
Flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Madina.

632
Death of Mohammed Beginning of Hijiri Era.

711
Arabs invade Spain.

1066
Norman invasion of England Victory of William the Conquerer over the English King Harold II at Hastings.

1280
Roger Bacon invents gunpowder.

1338
The Hundred years War broke out.

1348
English faces Black Death Plague.

1453
Turks captured Constantinople Renaissance in Europe.

1492
Discovery of America by Columbus.

1498
Sea-route to India discovered by Vasco-de-Gama.

1588
Spanish Armada defeated.

1600
British East India Company established in India.

1649
Execution of Charles I.

1660
Monarchy restored in England.

1665
The Great Plague of England.

1668
Glorious Revolution in England.

1704
Battle of Blenheim.

1707
Union of England and Scotland.

1776
Declaration of American Independence.

1789
French Revolution George Washington elected the first President of America.

1805
Battle of Trafalagar and Nelson's death.

1815
Battle of Waterloo Napolean exiled to St. Helena.

1821
Death of Napolean.

1832
Reforms Bill passed in England.

1837
Queen Victoria's accession to the throne of England.

1861
Beginning of the American Civil War.

1863
Slavery abolished in USA

1865
Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

1869
Opening of the Suez Canal for traffic.

1895
Roentgen discovered X-Rays.

1896
Marconi invented wireless.

1904
Russiao-Japan war.

1905
Japan defeated Russia Discovery of the theory of Relativity by Einstein.

1911
Chinese Revolution.

1912
Republic of China established.

1914
Beginning of World War I.

1917
Russian Revolution.

1918
End of World War I.

1919
Treaty of Versailles signed.

1920
Formation of the League of Nations.

1923
Turkey declared Republic.

1933
Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany.

1936
Beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

1939
World War II begins.

1941
Russia invaded by Hitler Pearl Harbour invaded by Japan.

1945
Establishment of UNO End of World War II Hiroshima and Nagasaki experience the first dropping of the Atom Bomb Death of President Roosevelt.

1946
Civil War in China.

1948
Burma and Ceylon get independence.

1949
Indonesia gets independence The Communists capture power in China.

1952
General Eisenhower elected as the American President.

1953
Death of Stalin Mt. Everest conquered for the first time.

1954
Military Aid Pact between China and Pakistan Chou En-lai visits India.

1955
Austria gets independence Bandung Conference.

1956
Suez Canal nationalised by President Nasser Egypt attacked by the forces of Britain France and Israel.

1957
First artificial satellite launched by Russia.

1958
Egypt and Syria united and renamed United Arab Republic (UAR)

1959
Chinese capture Tibet Dalai Lama flees to India Sputnik launched by Russia.

1960
Explosion of an atom bomb device by France Election of John F. Kennedy as President of USA

1961
Yuri Gagarin of USSR becomes the first spaceman.

1963
Partial Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty signed Malaysia established John F. Kennedy assassinated.

1965
Death of Sir Winston Churchill Singapore becomes the sovereign independent nation outbreak of Indo-Pak war.

1966
Tashkent Pact A Russian aircraft lands on moon.

1967
Chinese explode hydrogen bomb Arab-Israel War Suez Canal closed.

1971
Outbreak of Indo-Pak war Birth of Bangladesh Surrender of 93,000 Pakistani troops Khruschev died Z.A. Bhutto new President of Pakistan.

1972
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman freed from Pakistani Jail and assumed the office of P.M. Bangladesh Nixon of USA visited China King Mahendra of Nepal died USA and the USSR sign Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty.

1973
Outbreak of fourth Arab-Israeli war Fourth non-aligned summit in Algiers.

1975
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, President of Bangladesh assassinated King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, assassinated Suez Canal reopened Red Cross force Cambodia Government to Surrender.

1976
Chou-En Lai, P.M. of China, died Seychelles gets independence Viking I lands on Mars Mao Tse-tung died Jimmy Carter elected President of USA

1978
Agreement between Israel and Egypt Vietnam attacked Cambodia Z.A. Bhutto, former P.M. of Pakistan, sentenced to death Bloody coup in Afghanistan Mohammed Daoud assassinated World's first test-tube baby born.

1979
Chinese aggression in Vietnam Cambodian rebels grab power in Pnom Penh Mr. Z.A. Bhutto hanged Mrs. Margaret Thatcher is the first woman P.M. of Britain.

1980
War starts between Iran and Iraq Ronald Reagon elected USA President.

1982
Falklands, captured by Argentina Israel attacks South Lebanon Argentina forces surrender to British P.L.O. Chief Yesser Arafat leaves Beirut Bashir Gemyel, the President elect of Lebanon, assassinated Soviet President breathes his last.

1983
US attacks Grenada USA withdraws from UNESCO.

1985
India gets Presidentship of UN Security Council Soviet President, Mr. Konstantin Chernenko, dies Vietnam withdraws troops from Kampuchia.

1986
American air attack on Libya.

1987
Nuclear tests by USSR Fresh proposal by Gorbachev Group 77 meet at Havana Unsuccessful military coup in Philippines, Prime Minister of Lebanon killed.

1988
WHO observes 7th of April as no smoking day, French President re-elected, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq killed in plane crash, Quake kills about 1,000 people in Bihar (India), George Bush elected President of USA, Arafat declares on independent state of Palestine, Nearly 1,00,000 people killed in earthquake in Armenia.

1989
The UN Peace keeping force starts implementation of UN Resolution 435 for the independence of Namibia.

1990
The Panamanian President surrenders to the United States. South Africa lifts lean on African National Congress. Lithuania declares independence from the Soviet Union. Namibia becomes a free nation.
Iraq overruns Kuwait. East and West Germanys unite.

1991
War breaks out in the Gulf, With the defeat of Iraq and freedom of Kuwait, Gulf war ends.

1993
5 new members of security council START II treaty between Russian & US Presidents, Security Council resolution on Angola, Emergency in Zambia, Elections in Australia.

1994
South Africa emerged from aparted regime with Nelson Mandela as its president. GATT treaty signed to create World Trade Organisation (WTO).

1995
WTO comes into existence. Nuclear test by France. Balkan peace accord signed.

1996
Kofi Annan new UN Secretary General. Clinton re-elected US President. India refuses to sign CTBT. Shekh Hasina Wajed new PM of Bangladesh. Taliban capture Kabul and execute former communist
President Najibullah.

1997
Tony Blair back in power in UK. Mohd. Khatami elected president of Iran. Hong Kong goes back to China after 99 year British rule.

1998
Indonesian President Suharto resigns. Pakistan test fires `Gauri' missile. US President Clinton faces impeachment.

1999
G-15 Summit ends. Yugoslavia accepts a peace plan for Kosovo.

2000
Thai commandor rescue 700 hostages from a capital Ratchabuh. India-China sign agreement on Information Technology, World Aids Day observed.

2001
Goerge W. Bush, was sworn in as the 43rd President of the United States. Heritage destroy of Bamiyan Buddha in Afghanistan by Taliban. Massacred of Nepal Royal family. Terrorist attacks on America by Taliban Supremo Osama bin Laden.

2002
`Euro' becomes the official currency of 12 European countries. A new nation East Timor came into existence. Switzerland and East Timor becomes the 190th & 191th member of the UN.

2003
Germany, Spain, Pakistan, Chile and Angola take rotating two-year seats on the UN Security Council Iraq and the UN sign a 10-point agreement to facilitate the work of disarmament monitors India-born American astronaut Kalpana Chawla and six other crew of the STS-107 space shuttle mission were killed as the US space shuttle Columbia disintegrates over Texas name of Yugoslavia has been changed, it became Serbia and Montenegro Australia win ICC World Cup by defeating India, war between US and Iraq International criminal court was launched. WTO ministerial conference held in Cancun. India and ASEAN signed three accord. Over 20,000 people are killed as a major earthquake
destroys the Iranian Fort city Bam.

2004
India-Pakistan air links resume, the 12th SAARC Summit concludes in Islamabad after the signing of historic Agreement on Free Trade, Additional Protocol on Terrorism and Social Charter. NASA announced that it would name the spot where the robot probe Spirit landed successfully, in the memory of seven astronauts of the space shuttle Columbia. The US declares Mr. Saddam Hussein a prisoner of war. Pakistan has been readjusted to the common wealth. United States hand over political authority to Iraq. The 28th Olympics start in Athens. Russian Parliament ratifics the Kyoto Protocol, Yasser Arafat dies in Paris. Taslima Nasreen awarded UNESCO tolerance and non-violence Prize.

2005
India and Pakistan agree to allow travel by bus across the Line of Control between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, Microsoft founder, The U.S. Senate approves Michael d. Griffin as NASA chief, Kuwaiti Parliament grants women the right to vote and run in elections, Latvia ratifies E.U. Constitution, The sixth book by J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, hits the stands worldwide, Junichiro Koizumi is reelected Japanese Premier by the new House of Representatives at a special session in Tokyo, The Dhaka Declaration decides to set up a SAARC poverty Alleviation Fund and to declare 2006-2015 the SAARC Decade of Poverty Alleviation, The Kyoto protocol on limiting pollution becomes fully operational, Evo Morales wins Bolivian presidential polls, The Galileo navigational telescope is launched from Kazakhstan.

2006
SAFTA comes into effect. Sirleaf sworn in as Liberian president. Chile elected socialist Michelle Bachelet to be its first woman president. 18th CWG held in Melbourne (Australia). UNO passed a resolution for new Human Rights Council. UN General Assembly has approved Ban-Ki-Moon as the new Secretary General. North Korea conducted an underground Nuclear test. 15th Asian Games were held in Doha (Qatar) in December 2006.

2007
Bangladesh declares a state of emergency. Nepal's Parliament unanimously approves the interim Constitution. 14th SAARC Summit held in New Delhi (India). Australia won the World Cup Cricket tournament, 2007. G-8 Summit held in Heilligendamm, Berlin (Germany). Viktor Zubkov has been appointed as a new Prime Minister of Russia. Yasuo Fukuda was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Japan. India won the Twenty-20 World Cup Cricket Championship over Pakistan in South Africa. Nobel
Prize 2007 has ben announced.


10 Terrible Famines in History

Famine is often considered one of the worst natural disasters on Earth. Its effects are widespread, and the damage caused by a famine can last for months, if not years. Oftentimes caused by other natural disasters, it can destroy whole villages and cause a mass exodus. Death by starvation and malnutrition is slow and painful and often hits the youngest and the elderly the hardest. Unfortunately, at times it is brought upon by political incompetency, and cruelty towards others can exacerbate the situation. Below are 10 terrible famines experienced throughout human history.

One of the most famous famines in history, the Great Famine, was caused by a devastating potato disease. 33% of the Irish population relied on the potato for sustenance, and the onset of the disease in 1845 triggered mass starvation that lasted until 1853. The large Catholic population was suppressed by British rule and left unable to own or lease land or hold a profession. When the blight struck, British ships prevented other nations from delivering food aid. Ireland experienced a mass exodus, with upwards of 2 million people fleeing the country, many to the United States. At its conclusion in 1853, 1.5 million Irish were dead, and an additional 2 million had emigrated. In total, the population of Ireland shrunk by a resounding 25%.

World War I brought a period of famine and sickness throughout much of Persia, then ruled by the Qajar dynasty. One of the leading factors in this famine was the successive years of severe droughts, which significantly reduced farming outputs. Additionally, what food was produced was confiscated by occupying forces. Changes to trade and general unrest during the war heightened fears and created hoarding situations, further exacerbating the situation. This, in conjunction with poor harvests and war profiteering, combined to form a famine that spread quickly throughout the area. Death toll numbers are widely debated, but most scholars estimate around 2 million lost their lives due to famine or resulting diseases.

As the most recent famine on this list, North Korea suffered a tremendous famine from 1994 to 1998, brought about by a combination of misguided leadership and large-scale flooding. Torrential rains in 1995 flooded the farming regions and destroyed 1.5 million tons of grain reserves. Politically, Kim Jung Il implemented a &ldquoMilitary First&rdquo policy, which placed the needs of the military above the needs of the common people, food rations included. The isolated nation suffered from a stagnating economy and was unable and unwilling to import food. As such, the childhood mortality rate rose to 93 out of 1000 children, and the mortality rate of pregnant women rose to 41 out of 1000 mothers. Over a 4-year span, an estimated 2.5-3 million people perished due to malnutrition and starvation.

The early 20th century was a tumultuous time for Russians, as they lost millions in World War I, experienced a violent revolution in 1917, and suffered from multiple Civil Wars. The Bolshevik soldiers often forced peasants to sacrifice their food throughout the wars, with little in return. As such, many peasants stopped growing crops, as they could not eat what they sowed. This resulted in a massive shortage of food and seed. Many peasants had taken to eating seeds, as they knew they could not eat any crops they grew. By 1921, 5 million Russians had perished.

A whirlwind of catastrophic events set about the Bengal Famine of 1943. With World War II raging and Japanese imperialism growing, Bengal lost its largest trading partner in Burma. A majority of the food the Bengalis consumed was imported from Burma, but the Japanese suspended the trade. In 1942, Bengal was hit by a cyclone and three separate tidal waves. The ensuing floods destroyed 3200 square miles of viable farmland. An unpredictable fungus, destroying 90% of all rice crops in the region, then struck crops. Meanwhile, refugees fleeing the Japanese from Burma entered the region by the millions, increasing the need for food supplies. By December of 1943, 7 million Bengalis and Burmese refugees were dead due to starvation.

Yet another famine in Bengal, this horrific event killed a third of the population. Largely ruled by the English-owned East India Company, reports of severe drought and crop shortages were ignored, and the company continued to increase taxes on the region. Farmers were unable to grow crops, and any food that could be purchased was too expensive for the starving Bengalis. The company also forced farmers to grow indigo and opium, as they were much more profitable than inexpensive rice. Without large rice stocks, people were left with no food reserves, and the ensuing famine killed 10 million Bengalis.

Incredibly, the severity of this famine was not fully known in the West until the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s. The main cause was the policy of collectivization administered by Josef Stalin. Under collectivization, large swaths of land would be converted into collective farms, all maintained by peasants. Stalin implemented this by destroying the peasants&rsquo existing farms, crops, and livestock and forcibly taking their land. Reports of peasants hiding crops for individual consumption led to wide-scale search parties, and any hidden crops found were destroyed. In actuality, many of these crops were simply seeds that would be planted shortly. The destruction of these seeds and the forced collectivization of land caused mass starvation, killing an estimated 10 million people.

The Chalisa famine refers to the year in the Vikram Samvat calendar used in Northern India. Occurring in 1783, the region suffered from an unusually dry year, as a shift in the El Nino weather system brought significantly less rain to the region. Vast swaths of crops withered and died, and livestock perished due to lack of food and drinking water. The tumultuous year killed 11 million Indians.

Ranking second in terms of the death toll, the Chinese Famine of 1907 was a short-lived event that took the lives of nearly 25 million people. East-Central China was reeling from a series of poor harvests when a massive storm flooded 40,000 square miles of lush agricultural territory, destroying 100% of the crops in the region. Food riots took place daily and were often quelled through the use of deadly force. It is estimated that, on a good day, only 5,000 were dying due to starvation. Unfortunately for the Chinese, this would not be their last great famine.

Much like the Soviet Famine of 1932-1933, the Great Chinese Famine was caused by Communist leaders attempting to force change upon an unwilling population. As part of their &ldquoGreat Leap Forward,&rdquo owning private land was outlawed in China in 1958. Communal farming was implemented in an attempt to increase crop production. More relevant, however, was the importance the Communist Regime placed on iron and steel production. Millions of agricultural workers were forcibly removed from their fields and sent to factories to create metal.

In addition to these fatal errors, Chinese officials mandated new methods of planting. Seeds were to be planted 3-5 feet under the soil, extremely close together, to maximize growth and efficiency. In practice, what little seeds that sprouted were severely stunted in growth due to overcrowding. These failed policies, teamed with a flood in 1959 and a drought in 1960, affected the entirety of the Chinese nation. By the time the Great Leap Forward had ended in 1962, 43 million Chinese had died from the famine.


The Battle of Sluys in 1340 was a major turning point in the Hundred Years&rsquo War. It started after a series of disagreements between the Kings of England and the Kings of France about land ownership. By the 14th century, France occupied English territories in Europe. They also began to build their navies, especially in waters. With this, the English started a revolt. They destroyed a majority of the French ships and succeeded. The English victory at Sluys marked the most important maritime success in Europe.

During the 13th and 14th centuries, English armies tried to conquer Scotland through military force. It was until in 1707 when they agreed to the Act of Union. This was composed of two Acts of Parliament involving Scotland and England. Through the Acts of Union, the two kingdoms became united on One Kingdom. Basically, the two nations shared the same monarch government. They also shared one military and engineering prowess. This was considered as the most successful nation union in world history.


10 Memorable Moments in United Nations History - HISTORY

No one doubts that the United Nations was created with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, its history, while including some successes, is checkered with failures. In recent decades, the number of failures dwarfs the successes. The following timeline lists some of the critical events in the world body’s past.

Shortly after America’s entry into WWII, Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the phrase "United Nations."

The Dumbarton Oaks Conference was held from August to October. Its principal objective was to discuss the creation of an international organization to maintain peace after WWII. The United States, the Soviet Union, China and Great Britain attended the conference. The resulting Dumbarton Oaks Charter formed the framework for the U.N. Charter.

Representatives from 50 countries met in San Francisco for the U.N. Conference on International Organization.

The United Nations was officially born as an organization following the ratification of its Charter.

The United Nations passed its first resolution. It called for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The U.N. General Assembly voted to partition British-ruled Palestine into Jewish and Arab sectors, leading to the founding of Israel the following year.

The construction of the U.N. Headquarters in New York began after U.S. business magnate John D. Rockefeller donated the necessary land.

North Korea invaded South Korea. The U.N. Security Council responded with a call to all nations to come to the aid of South Korea and repel the invasion. The motion succeeded only because the Soviet Union was boycotting the U.N. Security Council.

Fourteen U.N. member nations, led by the United States, pushed North Korea back across the 38th Parallel. This was the first military action taken by the United Nations.

An armistice ending hostilities in Korea was signed with the pre-war border restored.

To prevent the Suez Canal from being nationalized, Great Britain, Israel and France invaded Egypt. The United States opposed the attack and condemned it at the United Nations. U.S. pressure ultimately forced the invading armies to withdraw from Egypt.

After the incident, the U.N. Emergency Force (U.N.E.F.) was created and placed in Egypt to protect the canal and "keep the borders at peace while a political settlement is being worked out." Most of the peacekeepers were deployed on the Sinai peninsula along the Egyptian-Israeli border.

Seventeen new states, sixteen of which were from Africa, were admitted to the United Nations.

President John F. Kennedy demanded the removal of Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba. The dispute, which came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, ended with the withdrawal of the missiles. This conflict brought the two superpowers closer than ever to nuclear war.

Although the United Nations proved impotent in the face of the crisis, it was in the U.N. Security Council where Adlai Stevenson, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, displayed photos proving the existence of the missiles, mobilizing international pressure against the Soviet Union.

Egyptian leader Abdul Nasser ordered U.N. peacekeepers out of his country, setting the stage for him to invade Israel. The United Nations timidly agreed, and, as a result, Arab states launched attacks that began the Six-Day War.

Israel utterly defeated the attackers and subsequently occupied the territory. This prompted the U.N. Security Council to adopt Resolution 242, demanding Israeli withdrawal.

The U.N. General Assembly approved a treaty on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The U.N. General Assembly granted "observer status" to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

The Cambodian Genocide began. In four years, 1.7 million people (21% of that country’s population) were killed. The United Nations made no attempt to stop it.

The U.N. General Assembly passed Resolution 3379, which declared, "Zionism is a form of racism."

The Iran-Iraq war began. The United Nations called for an immediate ceasefire. The war continued until 1988.

Iraq invaded Kuwait. The U.N. Security Council subsequently authorized the use of force to expel him. The United States responded by leading Operation Desert Storm and liberating Kuwait.

The U.N. Security Council dispatched peacekeepers to Somalia to restore order and protect the food supply. Three years later, after failing to accomplish that goal, the peacekeepers were withdrawn.

With a U.N. force powerlessly sitting by, the Rwandan genocide began. Eight hundred thousand people were killed in 100 days. A later inquiry blamed the United Nations for failing to act.

The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 986, beginning the Iraqi Oil-for-Food Program. The program was intended to bring humanitarian relief to the people of Iraq.

The program was fraught with corruption. Following Iraq’s liberation, it was discovered that Saddam Hussein diverted as much as $5 million of the aid to his personal bank accounts and more than $10 billion was misspent. High-ranking U.N. officials — including Secretary General Kofi Annan’s son — have since been accused of corruption.

The U.N. General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

In an effort to stop ethnic cleansing, NATO began a bombing campaign in Serbia without U.N. authorization following years of discussion and inaction by the U.N. Security Council. The move led to questions about the Security Council’s relevance.

The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1441, which declared that Iraq had to disarm.

President George W. Bush spoke out against Iraq before the U.N. General Assembly, declaring: "Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test . and the United Nations, a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced . or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding . or will it be irrelevant?"

After the United Nations failed to act, the United States led a coalition into Iraq.


Timeline: Key moments at the United Nations

A look at some of the most important UN resolutions on the subject of Israel and Palestine.

The United Nations has passed more than 150 resolutions regarding Israel and Palestine since 1947, by far the most it has considered on any one subject.

The timeline below summarises some of the most important resolutions. You can use the arrows, or the left and right arrows on your keyboard, to navigate through the timeline.

Resolution 181: The UN Partition Plan

This resolution called for the division of Palestine into two states, one Jewish, the other Arab, with an “international regime” to administer Jerusalem.

The resolution spelled out, in detail, the boundaries for the two states. The Jewish state was to receive 56% of Mandate Palestine, an area which contained a population of 498,000 Jews and 407,000 Arabs, according to a United Nations report issued at the time. The Arab state would contain 725,000 Arabs and 10,000 Jews.

Jerusalem, which would be under the purview of the United Nations, had a population of 100,000 Jews and 105,000 Arabs.

The resolution required both states to protect the rights of minorities, and to ensure free access to holy sites.

Both states were also required to establish an “Economic Union of Palestine,” which would create, among other things, a common currency and a customs union.

Resolution 194: Jerusalem and the right of return

This resolution was passed near the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and after the events of the nakba (“catastrophe”), the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes.

The most significant aspect of this resolution is article 11, which enshrines a right of return for Palestinian refugees:

The General Assembly… resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

Israel insists that the resolution does not guarantee a right of return, since it states that refugees merely “should be permitted” to return.

Other provisions of resolution 194 call for a demilitarised city of Jerusalem, and for “all residents of Palestine” to have free access to the city.

Resolution 1001 (ES-1): The Suez Crisis

This resolution was the result of the United Nations’ first-ever emergency session during the Suez Crisis in November 1956.

Resolution 1001 created the United Nations Emergency Force, the international peacekeeping body stationed on Sinai until it was expelled by the Egyptian government before the Six-Day War. (A successor to UNEF was created following the 1973 war.)

The first troops arrived on Sinai eight days later, and UNEF reached its full complement of 6,000 troops by February 1957. Troops were drawn from 11 countries, with several others providing logistical support.

This resolution followed several other Suez-related resolutions, including 997, which called for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of troops to the 1949 armistice lines.

Resolution 242: The “1967 borders”

This resolution was adopted following the Six-Day War in 1967 between Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Israel had significantly expanded its territory by the end of the war, seizing control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Resolution 242 called for the “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” This is generally interpreted as a demand for Israel to withdraw from all occupied territory, though Israel has insisted that a partial withdrawal is acceptable under the wording (because it does not state “all territories”).

The resolution further links Israel’s withdrawal to peace with its neighbours:

Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace…

In other words, this resolution laid the foundation for the “land for peace” formula, which has been at the heart of the so-called “peace process” ever since.

Resolution 338: After the 1973 war

This resolution was passed near the end of the October 1973 war between Israel and a coalition of Arab states (led by Egypt and Syria).

It is essentially just a reaffirmation of resolution 242: It calls for all sides to respect a cease-fire within 12 hours, and then urges them to “start immediately after the cease-fire the implementation of Security Council resolution 242 in all of its parts.”

The resolution was passed by a 14-0 vote, with one member, China, abstaining.

The cease-fire quickly unraveled, though, in part because US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger urged the Israeli government to advance its positions in the hours before the truce took effect.

The Security Council would pass two more resolutions, 339 and 340, over the next three days the latter finally resulted in a lasting cease-fire.

Resolution 3379: “Zionism is a form of racism”

This resolution, titled “Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination,” described Zionist ideology as racist.

It mentioned, among other things, a 1975 conference of the Organisation of African Unity (a precursor to the African Union), which compared Zionism to South African apartheid:

… “the racist regime in occupied Palestine and the racist regime in Zimbabwe and South Africa have a common imperialist origin, forming a whole and having the same racist structure and being organically linked in their policy aimed at repression of the dignity and integrity of the human being.”

The resolution went on to declare Zionism “a form of racism and racial discrimination.”

It passed in the General Assembly by a 72-35 vote, with 32 countries abstaining. The Israeli ambassador described the resolution as “anti-Semitic.”

It would eventually become the only General Assembly resolution to be revoked. Israel demanded that the UN revoke 3379 before it would agree to participate in the Madrid Conference the UN did so with resolution 4686, which was approved in December 1991.

Resolution 425: Withdrawal from Lebanon

The Security Council approved this resolution five days after the start of “Operation Litani,” Israel’s 1978 invasion of southern Lebanon.

The invasion was aimed at destroying Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) camps south of the Litani River. As many as 2,000 Lebanese civilians were killed, and tens of thousands of more displaced, during the week-long incursion.

Resolution 425 called for an immediate Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon.

The resolution also established a “United Nations interim force for Southern Lebanon” (UNIFIL), a multinational force tasked with keeping the peace. Though dubbed an “interim force,” UNIFIL still exists 33 years later its mandate is renewed annually by the Security Council.

The Israeli army withdrew on March 21, though it would invade southern Lebanon again four years later. It also continued to operate for decades through proxy fighters in the South Lebanon Army.

Resolution 465: Settlements and the Geneva Conventions

This resolution deals primarily with the rights of Palestinians living in the occupied territories.

It “affirms once more” that the Fourth Geneva Convention, which requires that civilians be protected during wartime, applies “to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967.”

And it criticises the Israeli policy of building Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Resolution 465 also mentioned the case of Fahd Qawasma, the mayor of Hebron, who was invited to testify before the committee. Israel barred him from traveling to New York.

“The Security Council… strongly deplores the decision of Israel to prohibit the free travel of [the mayor] in order to appear before the Security Council.”

This resolution was partly a follow-up to resolution 446, passed by the Security Council the preceding year, which declared Israeli settlements “have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

Resolution 681: An international conference

Resolution 681 once again calls on Israel to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention to Palestinians in the occupied territories.

The resolution itself mentions two prior resolutions, 672 and 673, which deal with the October 1990 violence at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Palestinians armed only with stones were fired upon by Israeli police more than 20 Palestinians were killed, and more than 150 injured.

Resolution 672 condemned the violence resolution 673 criticised Israel’s decision to bar a United Nations fact-finding mission from entering the country.

Also notable is a “presidential statement” issued along with the resolution:

The members of the Security Council reaffirm their determination to support an active negotiating process in which all relevant parties would participate leading to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict. In this context they agree that an international conference should facilitate efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement.

The Madrid Conference the following year was the first major face-to-face negotiation between Israel, the Palestinians, and neighbouring Arab countries.


What Happened in 1945 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture

What happened in 1945 Major News Stories include USS Indianapolis is sunk by Japanese Submarine, War In Europe Ends May 7th ( V-E Day ), Adolf Hitler and his wife of one day, Eva Braun, commit suicide, Harry S. Truman becomes US President following the death of President Roosevelt, Nuclear Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan surrender on August 14 ( V-J Day ), Germany Concentration Camps Liberated, Yalta Agreement signed, Germany is divided between Allied occupation forces, United Nations Charter creates United Nations .

1945 Following effects from Polio as a young man President Roosevelt died on April 12th . Following the defeat of Germany in early 1945 the war officially ended in Europe on May 7th ( V-E Day ). President Harry S. Truman orders the use of the new Nuclear Bombs developed by ( Robert Oppenheimer's team ) the first an atomic bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" on Hiroshima, Japan, and after the 2nd atomic bomb nicknamed "Fat Man" over the city of Nagasaki, Japan 5 days later Japan surrendered August 14th ( V-J Day ) .
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10 Memorable Moments in United Nations History - HISTORY

The Top Ten Battles of All Time

By Michael Lee Lanning
Lt. Col. (Ret.) U.S. Army

Battles win wars, topple thrones, and redraw borders. Every age of human history has experienced battles that have been instrumental in molding the future. Battles influence the spread of culture, civilization, and religious dogma. They introduce weapons, tactics, and leaders who dominate future conflicts. Some battles have even been influential not for their direct results, but for the impact of their propaganda on public opinion.

The following list is not a ranking of decisive engagements, but rather a ranking of battles according to their influence on history. Each narrative details location, participants, and leaders of the battle, and also provides commentary on who won, who lost, and why. Narratives also evaluate each battle's influence on the outcome of its war and the impact on the victors and losers.

Battle # 10 Vienna
Austria-Ottoman Wars, 1529

The Ottoman Turks' unsuccessful siege of Vienna in 1529 marked the beginning of the long decline of their empire. It also stopped the advance of Islam into central and western Europe, and ensured that the Christian rather than the Muslim religion and culture would dominate the region.

In 1520, Suleiman II had become the tenth sultan of the Ottoman Empire, which reached from the Persian frontier to West Africa and included much of the Balkans. Suleiman had inherited the largest, best-trained army in the world, containing superior elements of infantry, cavalry, engineering, and artillery. At the heart of his army were elite legions of Janissaries, mercenary slaves taken captive as children from Christians and raised as Muslim soldiers. From his capital of Constantinople, the Turkish sultan immediately began making plans to expand his empire even farther.

Suleiman had also inherited a strong navy, which he used with his army to besiege the island fortress of Rhodes, his first conquest. Granting safe passage to the defenders in exchange for their surrender, the Sultan took control of Rhodes and much of the Mediterranean in 1522. This victory demonstrated that Suleiman would honor peace agreements. In following battles where enemies did not surrender peacefully, however, he displayed his displeasure by razing cities, massacring the adult males, and selling the women and children into slavery.

By 1528, Suleiman had neutralized Hungary and placed his own puppet on their throne. All that now stood between the Turks and Western Europe was Austria and its Spanish and French allies. Taking advantage of discord between his enemies, Suleiman made a secret alliance with King Francis I of France. Pope Clement VII in Rome, while not allying directly with the Muslim Sultan, withdrew religious and political support from the Austrians.

As a result, by the spring of 1529, King Charles and his Austrians stood alone to repel the Ottoman invaders. On April 10, Suleiman and his army of more than 120,000, accompanied by as many as 200,000 support personnel and camp followers, departed Constantinople for the Austrian capital of Vienna. Along the way, the huge army captured towns and raided the countryside for supplies and slaves.

All the while, Vienna, under the able military leadership of Count Niklas von Salm-Reifferscheidt and Wilhelm von Rogendorf, prepared for the pending battle. Their task appeared impossible. The city's walls, only five to six feet thick, were designed to repel medieval attackers rather than the advanced cast-cannon artillery of the Turks. The entire Austrian garrison numbered only about 20,000 soldiers supported by 72 cannons. The only reinforcements who arrived in the city were a detachment of 700 musket-armed infantrymen from Spain.

Despite its disadvantages, Vienna had several natural factors supporting its defense. The Danube blocked any approach from the north, and the smaller Wiener Back waterway ran along its eastern side, leaving only the south and west to be defended. The Vienna generals took full advantage of the weeks before the arrival of the Turks. They razed dwellings and other buildings outside the south and west walls to open fields of fire for their cannons and muskets. They dug trenches and placed other obstacles on avenues of approach. They brought in supplies for a long siege within the walls and evacuated many of the city's women and children, not only to reduce the need for food and supplies but also to prevent the consequences if the Turks were victorious.

One other factor greatly aided Vienna: the summer of 1529 was one of the wettest in history. The constant rains delayed the Ottoman advance and made conditions difficult for the marching army. By the time they finally reached Vienna in September, winter was approaching, and the defenders were as prepared as possible.

Upon his arrival, Suleiman asked for the city's surrender. When the Austrians refused, he began an artillery barrage against the walls with his 300 cannons and ordered his miners to dig under the walls and lay explosives to breach the defenses. The Austrians came out from behind their walls to attack the engineers and artillerymen and dig counter-trenches. Several times over the next three weeks, the invaders' artillery and mines achieved small breaches in the wall, but the Viennese soldiers quickly filled the gaps and repelled any entry into the city.

By October 12, the cold winds of winter were sweeping the city. Suleiman ordered another attack with his Janissaries in the lead. Two underground mines near the city's southern gate opened the way briefly for the mercenaries, but the staunch Viennese defenders filled the opening and killed more than 1200. Two days later, Suleiman ordered one last attack, but the Viennese held firm once again.

For the first time, Suleiman had failed. Scores of his never-before-defeated Janissaries lay dead outside the walls. The Turkish army had no choice but to burn their huge camp and withdraw back toward Constantinople, but before they departed they massacred the thousands of captives they had taken on the way to Vienna. Along their long route home, many more Turks died at the hands of raiding parties that struck their flanks.

The loss at Vienna did not greatly decrease the power of the Ottoman Empire. It did, however, stop the Muslim advance into Europe. Suleiman and his army experienced many successes after Vienna, but these victories were in the east against the Persians rather than in the west against the Europeans. The Ottoman Empire survived for centuries, but its high-water mark lay somewhere along the Vienna city wall.

Following the battle for Vienna, the countries of the west no longer viewed the Turks and the Janissaries as invincible. Now that the Austrians had kept the great menace from the east and assured the continuation of the region's culture and Christianity, the European countries could return to fighting among themselves along Catholic and Protestant lines.

If Vienna had fallen to Suleiman, his army would have continued their offensive the following spring into the German provinces. There is a strong possibility that Suleiman's Empire might have eventually reached all the way to the North Sea, the alliance with France notwithstanding. Instead, after Vienna, the Ottomans did not venture again into Europe the Empire's power and influence began its slow but steady decline.

Battle # 9 Waterloo
Napoleonic Wars, 1815

The Allied victory over Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 brought an end to French domination of Europe and began a period of peace on the continent that lasted for nearly half a century. Waterloo forced Napoleon into exile, ended France's legacy of greatness, which it has never regained, etched its name on the list of history's best known battles, and added a phrase to the vernacular: "Waterloo" has come to mean decisive and complete defeat.

When the French Revolution erupted in 1789, twenty-year-old Napoleon left his junior officer position in the King's artillery to support the rebellion. He remained in the military after the revolution and rapidly advanced in rank to become a brigadier general six years later. Napoleon was instrumental in suppressing a Royalist uprising in 1795, for which his reward was command of the French army in Italy.

Over the next four years, Napoleon achieved victory after victory as his and France's influence spread across Europe and into North Africa. In late 1799, he returned to Paris, where he joined an uprising against the ruling Directory. After a successful coup, Napoleon became the first consul and the country's de facto leader on November 8. Napoleon backed up these aggrandizing moves with military might and political savvy. He established the Napoleonic Code, which assured individual rights of citizens and instituted a rigid conscription system to build an even larger army. In 1800, Napoleon's army invaded Austria and negotiated a peace that expanded France's border to the Rhine River. The agreement brought a brief period of peace, but Napoleon's aggressive foreign policy and his army's offensive posturing led to war between France and Britain in 1803.

Napoleon declared himself Emperor of France in 1804 and for the next eight years achieved a succession of victories, each of which created an enemy. Downplaying the loss of much of his navy at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Napoleon claimed that control of Europe lay on the land, not the sea. In 1812, he invaded Russia and defeated its army only to lose the campaign to the harsh winter. He lost more of his army in the extended campaign on the Spanish peninsula.

In the spring of 1813, Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Sweden allied against France while Napoleon rallied the survivors of his veteran army and added new recruits to meet the enemy coalition. Although he continued to lead his army brilliantly, the stronger coalition defeated him at Leipzig in October 1813, forcing Napoleon to withdraw to southern France. Finally, at the urging of his subordinates, Napoleon abdicated on April 1, 1814, and accepted banishment to the island of Elba near Corsica.

Napoleon did not remain in exile for long. Less than a year later, he escaped Elba and sailed to France, where for the next one hundred days he struck a trail of terror across Europe and threatened once again to dominate the continent. King Louis XVIII, whom the coalition had returned to his throne, dispatched the French army to arrest the former emperor, but they instead rallied to his side. Louis fled the country, and Napoleon again claimed the French crown on March 20. Veterans as well as new recruits swelled Napoleon's army to more than 250,000.

News of Napoleon's return reached the coalition leaders while they were meeting in Vienna. On March 17, Britain, Prussia, Austria, and Russia agreed to each provide 150,000 soldiers to assemble in Belgium for an invasion of France to begin on July 1. Other nations promised smaller support units.

Napoleon learned of the coalition plan and marched north to destroy their army before it could organize. He sent part of his army, commanded by Emmanuel de Grouchy, to attack the Prussians under Gebhard von Bluecher in order to prevent their joining the Anglo-Dutch force near Brussels. Napoleon led the rest of the army against the British and Dutch.

The French army won several minor battles as they advanced into Belgium. Although the coalition commander, the Duke of Wellington, had little time to prepare, he began assembling his army twelve miles south of Brussels, just outside the village of Waterloo. There he arrayed his defenses on high ground at Mount St. Jean to meet the northward-marching French.

By the morning of June 18, Napoleon had arrived at Mount St. Jean and deployed his army on high ground only 1300 yards from the enemy defenses. Napoleon's army of 70,000, including 15,000 cavalrymen and 246 artillery pieces, faced Wellington's allied force of about 65,000, including 12,000 cavalry and 156 guns, in a three-mile line. Both commanders sent word to their other armies to rejoin the main force.

A hard rain drenched the battlefield, causing Napoleon to delay his attack as late as possible on June 18 so that the boggy ground could dry and not impair his cavalry and artillery. After ordering a sustained artillery bombardment, Napoleon ordered a diversionary attack against the allied right flank in the west in hopes of getting Wellington to commit his reserve. The British defenders on the west flank, including the Scots and Coldstream Guards, remained on the reverse slope of the ridge during the artillery bombardment and then came forward when the French advanced.

The attack against the Allied right flank failed to force Wellington to commit his reserve, but Napoleon pressed on with his main assault against the enemy center. As the attack progressed, Napoleon spotted the rising dust of Bluecher's approaching army, which had eluded Grouchy's, closing on the battlefield. Napoleon, disdainful of British fighting ability, and overly confident of his own leadership and the abilities of his men, continued the attack in the belief that he could defeat Wellington before the Prussians joined the fight or that Grouchy would arrive in time to support the assault.

For three hours, the French and the British fought, often with bayonets. The French finally secured a commanding position at the center at La Haye Sainte, but the Allied lines held. Late in the afternoon, Bluecher arrived and seized the village of Plancenoit in Napoleon's rear, which forced the French to fall back. After a brutal battle decided by bayonets, the French forced the Prussians to withdraw. Napoleon then turned back against Wellington.

Napoleon ordered his most experienced battalions forward from their reserve position for another assault against the Allied center. The attack almost breached the Allied defenses before Wellington committed his own reserves. When the survivors of Napoleon's best battalions began to withdraw from the fight, other units joined the retreat. The Prussians, who had regrouped, attacked the French flank, sending the remainder running in disorder to the south. Napoleon's last few reserve battalions led him to the rear where he attempted, without success, to regroup his scattered army. Although defeated, the French refused to give up. When the Allies asked a French Old Guard officer to surrender, he replied, "The Guard dies, it never surrenders."

More than 26,000 French were killed or wounded and another 9,000 captured at Waterloo. Allied casualties totaled 22,000. At the end of the one-day fight, more than 45,000 men lay dead or wounded within the three-square-mile battlefield. Thousands more on both sides were killed or wounded in the campaign that led to Waterloo.

Napoleon agreed once again to abdicate on June 22, and two weeks later, the Allies returned Louis to power. Napoleon and his hundred days were over. This time, the British took no chances they imprisoned Napoleon on remote St. Helena Island in the south Atlantic, where he died in 1821.

Even if Napoleon had somehow won the battle, he had too few friends and too many enemies to continue. He and his country were doomed before his return from Elba.

France never recovered its greatness after Waterloo. It returned territory and resumed its pre-Napoleon borders. With Napoleon banished, Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Austria maintained a balance of power that brought European peace for more than four decades--an unusually long period in a region where war was much more common than peace.

While a period of peace in itself is enough to distinguish Waterloo as an influential battle, it and Napoleon had a much more important effect on world events. While the Allies fought to replace the king of France on his throne, their leaders and individual soldiers saw and appreciated the accomplishments of a country that respected individual rights and liberties. After Waterloo, as the common people demanded a say in their way of life and government, constitutional monarchies took the place of absolute rule. Although there was post-war economic depression in some areas, the general plight of the common French citizen improved in the postwar years.

Through the passage of time, the name Waterloo has become synonymous with total defeat. Napoleon and France did indeed meet their Waterloo in southern Belgium in 1815, but while the battle brought an end to one age, it introduced another. Although the French lost, the spirit of their revolution. and individual rights spread across Europe. No kingdom or country would again be the same.

Battle # 8 Huai-Hai
Chinese Civil War, 1948

The Battle of Huai-Hai was the final major fight between the armies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Nationalist Party of Kuomintang (KMT) in their long struggle over control of the world's most populous country. At the end of the battle, more than half a million KMT soldiers were dead, captured, or converted to the other side, placing China in the hands of the Communists who continue to govern today.

Struggles for the control of China and its provinces date back to the beginnings of recorded history. While some dynasties endured for many years and others for only short periods of time, the Chinese had fought among themselves and against foreign invaders throughout history only to find themselves divided once again at the start of the twentieth century. Political ideologies centered in Peking and Canton. Divisions in the country widened when the Japanese invaded in 1914. During World War I, the Chinese faced threats from within, from the Japanese, and from the newly formed Soviet Union.

When World War I finally ended, the Chinese continued their internal struggles with local dictators fighting to control small regions. In 1923, the country's two major parties, the CCP under Mao Zedong and the KMT controlled by Chiang Kai-shek, joined in an alliance to govern the country. The two sides had little in common, and in less than five years, the shaky alliance had come apart when their leaders' views on support from the Soviet Union clashed. Mao encouraged Soviet support while Chiang opposed it.

By 1927, the two parties were directly competing for control of China and its people. Mao focused on the rural areas while Chiang looked to the urban and industrial areas for his power. From 1927 to 1937, the two sides engaged in a civil war in which Chiang gained the upper hand through a series of successful offensives. Chiang almost destroyed the CCP army in 1934, but Mao and 100,000 men escaped before he could do so. For the next year, the Communists retreated from the Nationalists across 6,000 miles of China to Yenan, a retreat that became known as the Long March. Only 20,000 survived.

In 1937, Chiang and Mao once again put their differences aside to unite against another invasion by Japan. Mao and his army fought in the rural northern provinces, primarily employing guerrilla warfare. Mao also used this opportunity to solidify his support from the local peasants while stockpiling weapons provided by the Allies and captured from the Japanese. His army actually gained strength during the fighting. Meanwhile Chiang faced stronger Japanese opposition in the south, which weakened his army.

Despite efforts by the United States to mediate an agreement, the Communists and Nationalists resumed their armed conflict soon after the conclusion of World War II. In contrast to their weaker position prior to the war, the Communists now were stronger than the Nationalists. On October 10, 1947, Mao called for the overthrow of the Nationalist administration.

Mao, a student of Washington, Napoleon, and Sun Tzu, began to push his army south into the Nationalist zone. Whereas the Nationalists often looted the cities they occupied and punished their residents, the Communists took little retribution, especially against towns that did not resist. Now the Communists steadily achieved victories over the Nationalists. During the summer of 1948, the Communists experienced a series of victories that pushed the major portion of the Nationalist army into a cross-shaped area extending from Nanking north to Tsinan and from Kaifeng east through Soochow to the sea.

Mao decided that it was time to achieve a total victory. On October 11, 1948, he issued orders for a methodical campaign to surround, separate, and destroy the half-million-man Nationalist army between the Huai River and the Lung Hai Railway--the locations that gave the resulting battle its name. Mao divided his battle plan into three phases, all of which his army accomplished more smoothly and efficiently than anticipated.

The Communists divided the Nationalist-held territory into three areas. Then beginning in November, they attacked each in turn. Early in the campaign, many Nationalists, seeing no hope for their own survival, much less a Nationalist victory, defected to the Communists. Chiang, who also was encountering internal divisions within his party, attempted to reinforce each battle area, but poor leadership by the Nationalist generals, combined with Communist guerrilla activities, made his efforts ineffective. Chiang even had air superiority during the entire battle but was unable to coordinate ground and air actions to secure any advantage.

Over a period of two months, the Communists destroyed each of the three Nationalist forces. Support for Chiang from inside and outside China dwindled with each successive Communist victory. The United States, which had been a primary supporter, providing arms and supplies to the Nationalists, suspended all aid on December 20, 1948. U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall stated, "The present regime has lost the confidence of the people, reflected in the refusal of soldiers to fight and the refusal of the people to cooperate in economic reforms."

Within weeks of the U.S. announcement, the Communists overran the last Nationalist position and ended the Battle of Huai-Hai. Of the six highest-ranking Nationalist generals in the battle, two were killed in the fighting and two captured. The remaining two were among the few who escaped. By January 10, 1949, the half-million members of the Nationalist army had disappeared.

Within weeks, Tientsin and Peking fell to the Communists. On January 20, Chiang resigned his leadership of the Nationalists. The remaining Nationalist army and government continued to retreat until they finally withdrew to the island of Formosa. On Formosa, renamed Taiwan, Chiang regained power and developed the island into an Asian economic power. Mainland China, however, remained under the control of Mao and his Communists, who are still in power today.

The Communist takeover of China achieved by the Battle of Huai-Hai greatly influenced not only that country but the entire world. Over the next two decades, Mao focused almost exclusively on wielding complete control over his country. He ruthlessly put down any opposition and either executed or starved to death more than 20 million of his countrymen in order to bring to China the "joys" and "advantages" of Communism. Fortunately for the rest of the world, Mao remained focused on his own country. He disagreed with the Soviets on political and philosophical aspects of Communism, and the two nations viewed each other as possible opponents rather than allies.

China's internal struggles and its conflicts with its neighbors have restricted its active world influence. Even though it remains today the largest and strongest Communist nation and the only potential major Communist threat to the West, China remains a passive player, more interested in internal and neighboring disputes than in international matters.

Had the Nationalists been victorious at Huai-Hai, China would have played a different role in subsequent world events. There would have been no Communist China to support North Korea's invasion of the South, or North Vietnam's efforts to take over South Vietnam. Had Chiang, with his outward views and Western ties, been the victor, China might have taken a much more assertive role in world events. Instead, the Battle of Huai-Hai would keep China locked in its internal world rather than opening it to the external.

Battle # 7 Atomic Bombing of Japan
World War II, 1945

The United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 to hasten the end of World War II in the Pacific. Although it would be the first, and to date the only, actual use of such weapons of "mass destruction," the mushroom clouds have hung over every military and political policy since.

Less than five months after the sneak attack by the Japanese against Pearl Harbor, the Americans launched a small carrier-based bomber raid against Tokyo. While the attack was good for the American morale, it accomplished little other than to demonstrate to the Japanese that their shores were not invulnerable. Later in the war, U.S. bombers were able to attack the Japanese home islands from bases in China, but it was not until late 1944 that the United States could mount a sustained bombing campaign.

Because of the distance to Japan, American bombers could not reach targets and safety return to friendly bases in the Pacific until the island-hopping campaign had captured the Northern Mariana Islands. From bases on the Mariana Islands, long-range B-29 Superfortresses conducted high altitude bombing runs on November 24, 1944. On March 9, 1945, an armada of 234 B-29s descended to less than 7,000 feet and dropped 1,667 tons of incendiaries on Tokyo. By the time the fire storm finally abated, a sixteen-square-mile corridor that had contained a quarter million homes was in ashes, and more than 80,000 Japanese, mostly civilians, lay dead. Only the Allied fire bombing of Dresden, Germany, the previous month, which killed 135,000, exceed the destruction of the Tokyo raid.

Both Tokyo and Dresden were primarily civilian rather than military targets. Prior to World War II, international law regarded the bombing of civilians as illegal and barbaric. After several years of warfare, however, neither the Allies nor the Axis distinguished between military and civilian air targets. Interestingly, while a pilot could drop tons of explosives and firebombs on civilian cities, an infantryman often faced a court-martial for even minor mistreatment of noncombatants.

Despite the air raids and their shrinking territory outside their home islands, the Japanese fought on. Their warrior code did not allow for surrender, and soldiers and civilians alike often chose suicide rather than giving up. By July 1945, the Americans were launching more than 1200 bombing sorties a week against Japan. The bombing had killed more than a quarter million and left more than nine million homeless. Still, the Japanese gave no indication of surrender as the Americans prepared to invade the home islands.

While the air attacks and plans for a land invasion continued in the Pacific, a top-secret project back in the United States was coming to fruition. On July 16, 1945, the Manhattan Engineer District successfully carried out history's first atomic explosion. When President Harry Truman learned of the successful experiment, he remarked in his diary, "It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful."

Truman realized that the "most terrible thing" could shorten the war and prevent as many as a million Allied casualties, as well as untold Japanese deaths, by preventing a ground invasion of Japan. On July 27, the United States issued an ultimatum: surrender or the U.S. would drop a "super weapon." Japan refused.

In the early morning hours of August 6,1945, a B-29 named the Enola Gay piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Tibbets lifted off from Tinian Island in the Marianas. Aboard was a single atomic bomb weighing 8,000 pounds and containing the destructive power of 12.5 kilotons of TNT. Tibbets headed his plane toward Hiroshima, selected as the primary target because of its military bases and industrial areas. It also had not yet been bombed to any extent, so it would provide an excellent evaluation of the bomb's destructive power.

At 8:15 A.M ., the Enola Gay dropped the device called "Little Boy." A short time later, Tibbets noted, "A bright light filled the plane. We turned back to look at Hiroshima. The city was hidden by that awful cloud . boiling up, mushrooming." The immediate impact of Little Boy killed at least 70,000 Hiroshima residents. Some estimates claim three times that number but exact figures are impossible to calculate because the blast destroyed all of the city's records.

Truman again demanded that Japan surrender. After three days and no response, a B-29 took off from Tinian with an even larger atomic bomb aboard. When the crew found their primary target of Kokura obscured by clouds, they turned toward their secondary, Nagasaki. At 11:02 A.M . on August 9, 1945, they dropped the atomic device known as "Fat Man" that destroyed most of the city and killed more than 60,000 of its inhabitants.

Conventional bombing raids were also conducted against other Japanese cities on August 9, and five days later, 800 B-29s raided across the country. On August 15 (Tokyo time), the Japanese finally accepted unconditional surrender. World War II was over.

Much debate has occurred since the atomic bombings. While some evidence indicates that the Japanese were considering surrender, far more information indicates otherwise. Apparently the Japanese were planning to train civilians to use rifles and spears to join the military in resisting a land invasion. Protesters of the Atomic bombings ignore the conventional incendiaries dropped on Tokyo and Dresden that claimed more casualties. Some historians even note that the losses at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were far fewer than the anticipated Japanese casualties from an invasion and continued conventional bombing.

Whatever the debate, there can be no doubt that the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan shortened the war, The strikes against Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only air battles that directly affected the outcome of a conflict. Air warfare, both before and since, has merely supplemented ground fighting. As confirmed by the recent Allied bombing of Iraq in Desert Storm and in Bosnia, air attacks can harass and make life miserable for civilian populations, but battles and wars continue to be decided by ground forces.

In addition to hastening the end of the war with Japan, the development and use of the atomic bomb provided the United States with unmatched military superiority--at least for a brief time, until the Soviet Union exploded their own atomic device. The two superpowers then began competitive advancements in nuclear weaponry that brought the world to the edge of destruction. Only tentative treaties and the threat of mutual total destruction kept nuclear arms harnessed, producing the Cold War period in which the U.S. And the USSR worked out their differences through conventional means.

Battle # 6 Cajamarca
Spanish Conquest of Peru, 1532

Francisco Pizarro conquered the largest amount of territory ever taken in a single battle when he defeated the Incan Empire at Cajamarca in 1532. Pizarro's victory opened the way for Spain to claim most of South America and its tremendous riches, as well as imprint the continent with its language, culture, and religion.

Christopher Columbus's voyages to the New World offered a preview of the vast wealth and resources to be found in the Americas, and Hernan Cortes's victory over the Aztecs had proven that great riches were there for the taking. It is not surprising that other Spanish explorers flocked to the area--some to advance the cause of their country, most to gain their own personal fortunes.

Francisco Pizarro was one of the latter. The illegitimate son of a professional soldier, Pizarro joined the Spanish army as a teenager and then sailed for Hispaniola, from where he participated in Vasco de Balboa's expedition that crossed Panama and "discovered" the Pacific Ocean in 1513. Along the way, he heard stories of the great wealth belonging to native tribes to the south.

After learning of Cortes's success in Mexico, Pizarro received permission to lead expeditions down the Pacific Coast of what is now Colombia, first in 1524-25 and then again in 1526-28. The second expedition experienced such hardships that his men wanted to return home. According to legend, Pizarro drew a line in the sand with his sword and invited anyone who desired "wealth and glory" to step across and continue with him in his quest.

Thirteen men crossed the line and endured a difficult journey into what is now Peru, where they made contact with the Incas. After peaceful negotiations with the Incan leaders, the Spaniards returned to Panama and sailed to Spain with a small amount of gold and even a few llamas. Emperor Charles V was so impressed that he promoted Pizarro to captain general, appointed him the governor of all lands six hundred miles south of Panama, and financed an expedition to return to the land of the Incas.

Pizarro set sail for South America in January 1531 with 265 soldiers and 65 horses. Most of the soldiers carried spears or swords. At least three had primitive muskets called arquebuses, and twenty more carried crossbows. Among the members of the expedition were four of Pizarro's brothers and all of the original thirteen adventurers who had crossed their commander's sword line to pursue "wealth and glory."

Between wealth and glory stood an army of 30,000 Incas representing a century-old empire that extended 2,700 miles from modern Ecuador to Santiago, Chile. The Incas had assembled their empire by expanding outward from their home territory in the Cuzco Valley. They had forced defeated tribes to assimilate Incan traditions, speak their language, and provide soldiers for their army. By the time the Spaniards arrived, the Incas had built more than 10,000 miles of roads, complete with suspension bridges, to develop trade throughout the empire. They also had become master, stonemasons with finely crafted temples and homes.

About the time Pizarro landed on the Pacific Coast, the Incan leader, considered a deity, died, leaving his sons to fight over leadership. One of these sons, Atahualpa, killed most of his siblings and assumed the throne shortly before he learned that the white men had returned to his Incan lands.

Pizarro and his "army" reached the southern edge of the Andes in present day Peru in June 1532. Undaunted by the report that the Incan army numbered 30,000, Pizarro pushed inland and crossed the mountains, no small feat itself. Upon arrival at the village of Cajamarca on a plateau on the eastern slope of the Andes, the Spanish officer invited the Incan king to a meeting. Atahualpa, believing himself a deity and unimpressed with the Spanish force, arrived with a defensive force of only three or four thousand.

Despite the odds, Pizarro decided to act rather than talk. With his arquebuses and cavalry in the lead, he attacked on November 16, 1532. Surprised by the assault and awed by the firearms and horses, the Incan army disintegrated, leaving Atahualpa a prisoner. The only Spanish casualty was Pizarro, who sustained a slight wound while personally capturing the Incan leader.

Pizarro demanded a ransom of gold from the Incas for their king, the amount of which legend says would fill a room to as high as a man could reach--more than 2,500 cubic feet. Another two rooms were to be filled with silver. Pizarro and his men had their wealth assured but not their safety, as they remained an extremely small group of men surrounded by a huge army. To enhance his odds, the Spanish leader pitted Inca against Inca until most of the viable leaders had killed each other. Pizarro then marched into the former Incan capital at Cuzco and placed his handpicked king on the throne. Atahualpa, no longer needed, was sentenced to be burned at the stake as a heathen, but was strangled instead after he professed to accept Spanish Christianity.

Pizarro returned to the coast and established the port city of Lima, where additional Spanish soldiers and civilian leaders arrived to govern and exploit the region's riches. Some minor Incan uprisings occurred in 1536, but native warriors were no match for the Spaniards. Pizarro lived in splendor until he was assassinated in 1541 by a follower who believed he was not receiving his fair share of the booty.

In a single battle, with only himself wounded, Pizarro conquered more than half of South America and its population of more than six million people. The jungle reclaimed the Inca palaces and roads as their wealth departed in Spanish ships. The Incan culture and religion ceased to exist. For the next three centuries, Spain ruled most of the north and Pacific coast of South America. Its language, culture, and religion still dominate there today.

Battle # 5 Antietam
American Civil War, 1862

The Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history, stopped the first Confederate invasion of the North. It also ensured that European countries would not recognize the Confederacy or provide them with much-needed war supplies. While the later battles at Gettysburg and Vicksburg would seal the fate of the rebel states, the defeat of the rebellion began along Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862.

From the day the American colonies gained their independence at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, a conflict between the United States North and South seemed inevitable. Divided by geographical and political differences, and split over slavery and state's rights issues, the North and South had experienced mounting tensions during the first half of the nineteenth century. Finally, the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln in 1860 provided the spark that formally divided the country. Although Lincoln had made no campaign promises to outlaw slavery, many in the South viewed him as an abolitionist who would end the institution on which much of the region's agriculture and industry depended. In December 1860, South Carolina, acting on what they thought was a "state's right" under the U.S. Constitution, seceded from the Union. Three months later, seven other southern states joined South Carolina to form the Confederate States of America.

Few believed that the action would lead to war. Southerners claimed it was their right to form their own country while Northerners thought that a blockade of the Confederacy, supported by diplomacy, would peacefully return the rebel states to the fold. However, chances for a peaceful settlement ended with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12-14, 1861. Four more states joined the Confederacy a few days later.

Both sides quickly mobilized and aggressive Confederate commanders achieved success against the more reluctant and cautious Union leaders. While warfare on land favored the Confederates, they lacked a navy, which allowed the U.S. Navy to blockade its shores. This prevented the South from exporting their primary cash crop of cotton, as well as importing much-needed arms, ammunition, and other military supplies that the meager Southern industrial complex could not provide.

In May 1862, General Robert E. Lee took command of what he renamed as the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee soon became one the most beloved commanders in history. Yet, while his men adored him, his critics noted his inability to control his subordinate leaders.

Despite his shortcomings, Lee outmaneuvered and out-generaled his opponents in his initial battles. He turned back the Union march on Richmond and then moved north to win the Second Battle of Bull Run near Manassas, Virginia, on August 30, 1862. Both Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis realized, however, that the South could not win a prolonged war against the more populous and industrialized North. To endure and succeed, the South would need war supplies and naval support from Britain, France, and possibly even Russia. While these countries were sympathetic with the Southern cause, they were not going to risk bad relations or even war with the United States unless they were convinced the rebellion would succeed.

Following their victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Lee and Davis devised a plan that would meet their immediate needs for supplies as well as their long-range goal of European recognition. They would take the war into the North. On September 6, the Army of Northern Virginia crossed into Maryland with the intention of raiding and gathering supplies in southern Pennsylvania.

Union General George B. McClellan paralleled Lee, keeping his army between the invading rebels and Washington, D.C., where Lincoln feared they would attack. On September 9, 1862, Lee issued Order Number 191, calling for half of his force to move to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to control the region's rail center, while the other half marched to Harpers Ferry to capture the town's gun factory and to secure lines back to the South. Four days later, a Union soldier discovered a copy of the order in a field, wrapped around three cigars. He kept the cigars, but Lee's order was shortly in McClellan's hands.

Even though McClellan now possessed the complete Confederate battle plan and his forces outnumbered the rebels 76,000 to 40,000, he remained cautious because his own intelligence officers incorrectly warned that the Confederates' force was far larger. On September 14, McClellan began to close on Lee's army only to be slowed by small forces in passes in South Mountain. The brief delay allowed Lee to form his army along a low ridge near Antietam Creek just east of Sharpsburg, Maryland.

McClellan finally attacked on the morning of September 17, but his characteristic hesitation and poor communications caused the battle to be composed of three separate fights rather than one united effort. The battle began with a murderous artillery barrage, followed by an infantry assault on the Confederate left. Attacks and counterattacks marked the next two hours, with neither side able to maintain an advantage. Meanwhile, at midmorning, Union troops assaulted the rebel center that stood protected in a sunken road. By the time the rebels withdrew four hours later, the depleted, exhausted Union force was unable to pursue past what was now known as the "Bloody Lane."

In the afternoon, still another Union force attacked the rebel right flank to secure a crossing of Antietam Creek. Even though the waterway was fordable along much of its banks, most of the fight was concentrated over a narrow bridge. After much bloodshed, the Union troops pushed the Confederates back and were about to cut off Lee's route back south when rebel reinforcements arrived from Harpers Ferry. Even so, the third battlefront, like the other two, lapsed into a stalemate.

On the morning of September 18, Lee and his army withdrew back to Virginia. Since he was not forced to retreat, Lee claimed victory. McClellan, overly cautious as usual, chose not to pursue, although it is possible that if he had done so he could have defeated Lee and brought the war to a quick conclusion.

Between the two armies lay more than 23,000 dead or wounded Americans wearing either blue or gray. A single day of combat produced more casualties than any other in American history--more dead and wounded than the U.S. incurred in its Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War combined. Casualties at Antietam even outnumbered those of the Longest Day, the first day of the Normandy Invasion, by nine to one.

The influence of Antietam reached far beyond the death and wounds. For the first time, Lee and the rebel army failed to accomplish their objective, and this provided a much-needed morale boost for the Union. More importantly, when France and England learned of the battle's outcome, they decided that recognition of the Confederate States would not be advantageous.

The battle also changed the objectives of the United States. Prior to Antietam, Lincoln and the North had fought primarily to preserve the Union. Lincoln had waited for the opportunity to bring slavery to the forefront. Five days after Antietam, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Although the Proclamation did not free slaves in Union states and, of course, had no power to do so in areas controlled by the rebels, it did advance the freeing of slaves as an objective of the war.

Prior to the battle and the Proclamation, European nations, although opposed to slavery, still had sympathies for the Southern cause. Now with slavery an open issue and the Confederate's ability to win in question, the South would have to stand totally alone.

While it took two-and-a-half more years of fighting and the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg to finally end the war, the Confederate States were doomed from the time they withdrew southward from Antietam Creek. An improving Union army, combined with a solid refusal of outside support for the Confederacy, spelled the beginning of the end.

Antietam ranks as one of history's most influential battles because if the South had been victorious outside Sharpsburg, it is very possible that France, England, and possibly even Russia would have recognized the new country. Their navies would have broken the Union blockade to reach the cotton needed for their mills and to deliver highly profitable war materials. France, who already had troops in Mexico, might have even provided ground forces to support the South. Lincoln most likely would not have issued his Emancipation Proclamation and might have been forced to make peace with the rebels, leaving the country divided. Although future events, such as the two World Wars, would likely have made the former enemies into allies, it is doubtful that, in their state of division, either the United States or Confederate States would have been able to attain the level of world influence or to develop into the political, trade, and military power that the unified United States would become.

Battle # 4 Leipzig
Napoleonic Wars, 1813

The allied victory over Napoleon at Leipzig in 1813 marked the first significant cooperation among European nations against a common foe. As the largest armed clash in history up to that time, Leipzig led to the fall of Paris and the abdication of Napoleon.

After the Russian army and winter had handed Napoleon a nasty defeat in 1812, Europeans felt confident that peace would prevail after more than a decade of warfare. They were wrong. As soon as Napoleon returned to France from icy Russia, he set about rebuilding his army, conscripting teens and young men. He strengthened these ranks of inexperienced youths with veterans brought back from the Spanish front.

While Napoleon had been weakened by Russia, he believed that the other European countries were too distrustful of each other to ally against him. In early 1813, he decided to advance into the German provinces to resume his offensive. Just as he had done before, he planned to defeat each army he encountered and assimilate the survivors into his own force.

European leaders were correct to fear that Napoleon could accomplish his objectives, but they remained reluctant to enter into alliances with neighbors who were former, and possibly future, enemies. Karl von Metternich, the foreign minister of Austria, saw that neither his nor any other European country could stand alone against the French. Even though he had previously negotiated an alliance with Napoleon, he now began to assemble a coalition of nations against the French emperor.

Metternich's diplomacy, combined with the massing of the French army on the German border, finally convinced Prussia, Russia, Sweden, Great Britain, and several smaller countries to ally with Austria in March 1813. Napoleon disregarded the alliance and crossed into Germany with the intention of defeating each opposing army before the "allies" could actually unite against him.

Napoleon won several of the initial fights, even defeating the Prussians at Lutzen on May 2. He soon realized, however, that his new army was not the experienced one he had lost in Russia. More importantly, he had not been able to replace much of his cavalry lost in the Russian winter, limiting his reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering capabilities.

When Napoleon learned that armies were marching toward Dresden from the north, south, and east against him, he negotiated a truce that began on June 4. Metternich met with Napoleon in an attempt to reach a peace settlement but, despite generous terms that allowed France to retain its pre-war borders and for him to remain in power, Napoleon refused to accept the agreement.

During the negotiations, both sides continued to add reinforcements. On August 16, the truce ended and combat resumed. For two months, the Allies harassed the French but avoided a pitched battle while they solidified their plans for a major attack. Napoleon's army, forced to live off the land and to rapidly march and countermarch against the multiple armies around them, steadily became more exhausted.

In September, the Allies began a general offensive in which the French won several small battles. Yet the Allies forced them back to Leipzig in October. Napoleon had 175,000 men to defend the town, but the Allies massed 350,000 soldiers and 1,500 artillery pieces outside his lines.

On the morning of October 16, 1813, Napoleon left part of his army in the north to resist an attack by the Prussians while he attempted to break through the Russian and Austrian lines in the south. The battle raged all day as the front swept back and forth, but by nightfall both sides occupied the same positions as when the battle began.

Little action took place on October 17 because both sides rested. The battle on October 18 closely resembled that of two days earlier. Nine hours of furious combat accomplished little except to convince Napoleon that he could not continue a battle of attrition against the larger Allied force. The odds against him increased when the Swedish army arrived to join the Allies and a unit of Saxons deserted the French to join the other side.

Napoleon attempted to establish another truce, but the Allies refused. During the night, the French began to withdraw westward by crossing the Elster River. A single stone bridge, which provided the only crossing, soon created a bottleneck. Napoleon deployed 30,000 soldiers to act as a rear guard to protect the crossing, but they were stranded when the bridge was destroyed. A few swam to safety, but most, including three senior officers, were killed or captured.

Once again, Napoleon limped back toward Paris. Behind him he left 60,000 dead, wounded, or captured French soldiers. The Allies had lost a similar number, but they could find replacements far more quickly and easily than Napoleon. Other countries, including the Netherlands and Bavaria--which Napoleon had added to his confederation by conquest--now abandoned him and joined the Allies. On December 21, the Allies invaded France and, following their victory at Paris on March 30, 1814, forced Napoleon into exile on Elba.

Napoleon soon returned, but after only one hundred days he suffered his final defeat by the Allies at Waterloo on June 18, 1815 . Metternich continued his unification efforts and signed most of the Allies to the Concert of Europe, which provided a balance of power and a peace that lasted until the Crimean War in 1854. Most of the alliance survived another three decades until the ambitions of Germany brought an end to European peace.

The Battle of Leipzig was important because it brought Napoleon a defeat from which he could not recover. More important, however, was the cooperation of armies against him. This alliance is so significant that Leipzig is frequently called the Battle of the Nations. For these reasons, Leipzig ranks as one of history's most influential battles.

Leipzig also eclipses Waterloo in its influence. While the latter was certainly more decisive, a victory by Napoleon at Leipzig would likely have broken the alliance and placed the French in a position to once again defeat each of the other nation's armies. A French victory at Leipzig would have meant no defeat of Napoleon at Paris, no abdication to Elba, and no return to Waterloo.

Battle # 3 Stalingrad
World War II, 1942-43

Stalingrad was the last great offensive by the German Nazis on the Eastern Front. Their defeat in the city on the Volga River marked the beginning of a long series of battles that would lead the Russians to Berlin and Hitter's Third Reich to defeat. The Battle of Stalingrad resulted in the death or capture of more than a quarter million German soldiers, and denied the rich Caucasus oil fields to the Nazis.

Despite the lack of success by the German army to capture the cities of Moscow and Leningrad in their blitzkrieg offensive in the fall and winter of 1941, Hitler remained determined to conquer Russia in order to destroy Communism and gain access to natural resources for the Third Reich. With his army stalled outside the cities to the north, Hitler directed an offensive against Stalingrad to capture the city's industrial assets and to cut communications between the Volga and Don Rivers. Along with the attack against Stalingrad, German columns were to sweep into the Caucasus to capture the oil fields that would fuel future Nazi conquests.

In the spring of 1942, German Army Group A headed into the Caucasus while Group B marched toward Stalingrad. Initially both were successful, but the German army, depleted by the battles of the previous year, was too weak to sustain two simultaneous offensives. The Germans might have easily captured Stalingrad had Hitler not continued to redirect units to the Caucasus. By the time he concentrated the offensive against Stalingrad, the Soviets had reinforced the area. Stalin directed the defenders of the city that bore his name, "Not a step backward." Hitler accepted the challenge and directed additional forces against the city.

On August 23, 1942, more than a thousand German airplanes began dropping incendiary and explosive bombs. More than 40,000 of the 600,000 Stalingrad civilians died in the fiery attack. The survivors picked up arms and joined the soldiers in defense of their city. The next day, the Sixth German Army, commanded by General Friedrich Paulus, pressed into the edge of the town and assumed victory when they found it mostly in ruins. They were wrong. Soldiers and civilians rose from the rubble to fight back with small arms and even hand-to-hand combat as they contested every foot of the destroyed town.

Elements of the Soviet Sixty-second Army joined the fight. Clashes over the city's Mamaev Mound resulted in the hill changing hands eight times as the battle line advanced and retreated. Near the center of the city, the Stalingrad Central Railway station changed hands fifteen times in bitter, close infantry combat. German artillery and air power continued to pound the city, but the Russians maintained such close contact with their opponents that much of the ordinance exploded harmlessly to their rear.

By September 22, the Germans occupied the center of Stalingrad, but the beleaguered Russian soldiers and civilians refused to surrender. They provided Soviet General Georgi Zhukov time to reinforce the city's flanks with additional soldiers, tanks, and artillery pieces. On November 19, the Russians launched a counter-offensive against the north and south flanks of the Germans.

The two attacks focused on lines held by Romanian, Italian, and Hungarian forces who were allied with the Germans, rather than the better trained and disciplined Nazi troops. On November 23, the two pincers linked up west of Stalingrad, trapping more than 300,000 German soldiers in a pocket thirty-five miles wide and twenty miles long.

General Paulus requested permission from Hitler to withdraw prior to the encirclement, but he was told to fight on. Reich Marshal Hermann Goering promised Hitler that he could supply the surrounded Paulus with 500 tons of food and ammunition per day. Goering and his Luftwaffe failed to deliver even 150 tons a day while the Russians destroyed more than 500 transport aircraft during the supply effort. A relief column led by General Erich von Manstein, one of Hitler's finest officers, attempted to reach the surrounded army but failed.

The Russians continued to reduce the German perimeter. By Christmas, the Germans were low on ammunition, nearly out of food, and freezing in the winter cold. On January 8, 1943, the Russians captured the last airfield inside the German lines and demanded the surrender of the entire army. Hitler radioed Paulus, "Surrender is forbidden. Sixth Army will hold their position to the last man and last round. " He also promoted Paulus to field marshal and reminded him that no German of that rank had ever surrendered on the battlefield.

The Germans did not hold out to the last round or the last man. By January 31, their numbers had plummeted to 90,000, many of whom were wounded. All were hungry and cold. Units began to give up, and within two days all resistance ceased. Field Marshal Paulus surrendered himself, 23 generals, 90,000 men, 60,000 vehicles, 1,500 tanks, and 6,000 artillery pieces.

Of the 90,000 Germans captured at Stalingrad, only about 5,000 survived the harsh conditions of the Soviet prisoner-of-war camps. Those who were not worked to death died of starvation and disease. Paulus, however, was not harshly treated by his captors but remained under house arrest in Moscow for eleven years. He was allowed in 1953 to return to Dresden in East Germany, where he died in 1957.

The siege of Stalingrad provided sufficient time for the German Army Group A to withdraw from the Caucasus. The loss of Army Group B in the rubble of Stalingrad and the toll experienced by Army Group A before its withdrawal, however, weakened the German army on the Eastern Front to the point where it could never again mount a major offensive. More than two years would pass before the Red Army occupied Berlin, but Stalingrad opened the way to the future victories that led to Hitler's Bunker and the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Victory at Stalingrad did not come easily or cheaply for the Russians. Nearly half a million soldiers and civilians died in defense of the city. Almost all of its homes, factories, and other buildings were destroyed. But the Russians had won, and that victory united the Russian people, giving them the confidence and strength that drove them on to Berlin.

Stalingrad proved to the Russians and their allies that they could both stop and defeat the great German army. The battle was the turning point of World War II. Victory at Stalingrad for the Germans would have led to victory in the Caucasus Mountains. With the oil and other resources from that area, the German army would have been able to turn more of their power to the Western Front. If the German armies in the east had survived to face the British, the Americans, and their Allies in the west, the war definitely would not have concluded as quickly. Perhaps even the eventual allied victory might have been in doubt.

While Stalingrad was the turning point of World War II, and the valor of its defenders will never be in doubt, the Soviet brand of Communism in whose name the battle was fought has not survived. Stalingrad did not even survive to see the demise of the Soviet Union. In the purge of all references to Stalin after his death, the city was renamed Volgograd. Yet, the brave defenders of Stalingrad, who fought for themselves and their city, deserve recognition as fighting one of history's most decisive and influential battles.

Battle # 2 Hastings
Norman Conquest of England, 1066

The Norman victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 was the last successful invasion of England--and the first and only since the Roman conquest a thousand years earlier. Its aftermath established a new feudal order that ensured that England would adopt the political and social traditions of continental Europe, rather than those of Scandinavia. The single battle also gained the country's crown for the Norman leader William.

Prior to the Battle of Hastings, the Vikings ruled Scandinavia, Northern Europe, and much of the British Isles. Areas they did not directly control were still vulnerable to their constant raids. Earlier Viking victories in France had led to intermarriage and the creation of a people who called themselves the Normans. Other Vikings conquered the British Isles and established their own kingdoms. Royal bloodlines ran through the leaders of all of the monarchies, but this did not prevent them from fighting each other.

Claims of crowns and territories reached a state of crisis with the death of Edward the Confessor, the King of England in 1066, who had left no heir. Three men claimed the throne: Harold Godwin, brother-in-law of Edward William, the Duke of Normandy and a distant relative of Edward's and King Harald Hardrada of Norway, the brother of Harold Godwin.

Both Harald and William assembled armies to sail to England to secure their claims. Godwin decided that William presented more of a threat and moved his English army to the southern coast across from Normandy. Weather, however, delayed William, and King Harald's ten thousand Vikings arrived first. On September 20, the Vikings soundly defeated the local forces around the city of York and seriously weakened the English army in the region.

Hearing of the battle, Godwin turned his army north and covered the two hundred miles to York in only six days. At Stamford Bridge, he surprised the Vikings and soundly defeated them. The retreating Viking survivors filled only twenty-four of the three hundred ships that had brought them to England.

Godwin had inflicted the most decisive defeat on the Vikings in more than two centuries, but there was no time to celebrate. A few days later, he learned that the Normans had landed at Pevensey Bay in Sussex and were marching inland. Godwin hurried back south with his army and on October 1 he arrived in London, where he recruited additional soldiers. On October 13, Godwin moved to Sussex to take defensive positions along the Norman line of march on Senlac Ridge, eight miles northwest of the village of Hastings. He did not have long to prepare because William approached the next day.

Godwin possessed both advantages and disadvantages. He had the advantage of the defense, and his army of 7,000 was about the same size as that of the Normans. Only about 2,000 of his men, however, were professionals. These housecarls, as they were known, wore conical helmets and chain-mail vests and carried five-foot axes in addition to metal shields. The remaining Saxons were poorly trained militiamen known as fyrds, who were basically draftees levied from the shires. Many of the fyrds, and most of the housecarls, were exhausted from their march as well as from the fierce battle with the Vikings.

William's army contained about 2,000 cavalrymen and 5,000 infantrymen, equally armed with swords or bows or crossbows. Despite the lack of numerical superiority and an enemy defense that would only allow for a frontal assault, William attacked.

The Normans advanced behind a rain of arrows from their archers, but the Saxon shields turned aside most of the missiles. Several direct attacks by the infantry fared no better. William then personally led a cavalry charge but was turned back by marshy ground and the Saxon defenses. Defeat, or at best stalemate, appeared to be the outcome of the battle for the invaders. The Normans were further demoralized when a story swept the ranks that William had been killed.

When the Norman leader heard the rumor, he removed his visor and rode to the head of his army. His soldiers, seeing that he was alive, rallied and renewed the assault. William also ordered his archers to fire at a high angle rather than in a direct line in order to reach behind the Saxon shields. The battle remained in doubt until William's cavalry turned and wildly fled from the battlefield. Whether the cavalry was retreating from fright or as a ruse, it had the same results. The Saxons left their defenses to pursue, only to be struck by the Norman infantry. At about the same time, an arrow hit Godwin in the eye, and he was killed by the advancing infantry. The leaderless Saxons began to flee.

William, soon to be known as the Conqueror, pursued the retreating Saxons and seized Dover. With little resistance, he entered London on December 25, 1066, and received the crown of England as King William I. Over the next five years, William brutally put down several rebellions and replaced the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy with his own Norman followers. Norman nobles built castles from which to rule and defend the countryside. Norman law, customs, traditions, and citizens intermingled with the Saxons to form the future of England as a nation.

Later the adage would declare, "There'll always be an England." The fact remains that the England that eventually came to exist began on the Hastings battlefield, and 1066 became a schoolbook standard marking the expansion of English culture, colonization, and influence around the world.

Battle # 1 Yorktown
American Revolution, 1781

The Battle of Yorktown was the climax of the American Revolution and directly led to the independence of the United States of America. While others may have been larger and more dramatic, no battle in history has been more influential. From the days following their victory at Yorktown, Americans have steadily gained power and influence up to their present role as the world's most prosperous nation and the only military superpower.

The idea that a group of poorly armed, loosely organized colonists would have the audacity to challenge the massive, experienced army and navy of their rulers seemed impossible when the revolution's first shots rang out at Lexington and Concord in 1775. The rebels' chances of success seemed even more remote when the American colonies formally declared their independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776.

Despite the huge imbalance of power, the Americans understood that time was on their side. As long as George Washington and his army remained in the field, the newly declared republic survived. Washington did not have to defeat the British he simply had to avoid having the British defeat him. The longer the war lasted, the greater the odds that the British would become involved in wars that threatened their own islands and that the British public would tire of the war and its costs.

During the first year of the war, Washington had lost a series of battles around New York but had withdrawn the bulk of his army to fight another day. Many British commanders had unintentionally aided the American effort with their military ineptness and their belief that the rebels would diplomatically end their revolt.

Participants on both sides, as well as observers around the world, had begun to take the possibility of American independence seriously only with their victory at Saratoga in October 1777. The poorly executed plan by the British to divide New England from the southern colonies by occupying New York's Hudson River Valley had resulted not only in the surrender of nearly six thousand British soldiers but also in the recognition of the United States as an independent nation by France. The American victory at Saratoga and the entrance of the French into the war also drew Spain and the Netherlands into the fight against England.

By 1778, neither the British nor the Americans could gain the upper hand, as the war in the northern colonies had come to a stalemate. The British continued to occupy New York and Boston, but they were too weak to crush the rebel army. Washington similarly lacked the strength to attack the British fortresses.

In late 1778, British commander General Henry Clinton used his superior sea mobility to transfer much of his army under Lord Charles Cornwallis to the southern colonies, where they occupied Savannah and then Charleston the following year. Clinton's plan was for Cornwallis to neutralize the southern colonies, which would cut off supplies to Washington and isolate his army.

Washington countered by dispatching Nathanael Greene, one of his ablest generals, to command the American troops in the South. From 1779 to 1781, Greene and other American commanders fought a guerrilla-like campaign of hit-and-run maneuvers that depleted and exhausted the British. In the spring of 1781, Cornwallis marched into North Carolina and then into Yorktown on the Virginia peninsula flanked by the York and James Rivers. Although his army outnumbered the Americans two to one, Cornwallis fortified the small town and waited for additional men and supplies to arrive by ship.

Meanwhile, more than seven thousand French infantrymen, commanded by Jean Baptiste de Rochambeau, joined Washington's army outside New York, and a French fleet led by Admiral Paul de Grasse waited in the Caribbean, preparing to sail northward. Washington wanted de Grasse to blockade New York while the combined American-French armies attacked Clinton's New York force.

Rochambeau and de Grasse proposed instead that they attack Cornwallis. On August 21, 1781, Washington left a few units around New York and joined Rochambeau to march the two hundred miles to Yorktown in only fifteen days. Clinton, convinced that New York was still the rebels' primary target, did nothing.

While the infantry was on its march, the French navy drove away the British ships in the area at the Battle of Chesapeake Capes on September 5. De Grasse then blockaded the entrance to Chesapeake Bay and landed three thousand men to join the growing army around Yorktown.

By the end of September, Washington had united his army from the north with the rebel Southerners. He now had more than 8,000 Americans along with the 7,000 French soldiers to encircle the 6,000 British defenders. On October 9, 1781, the Americans and French began pounding the British with fifty-two cannons while they dug trenches toward the primary enemy defensive redoubts.

The American-Franco infantry captured the redoubts on October 14 and moved their artillery forward so they could fire directly into Yorktown. Two days later, a British counterattack failed. On October 17, Cornwallis asked for a cease-fire, and on the 19th he agreed to unconditional surrender. Only about one hundred and fifty of his soldiers had been killed and another three hundred wounded, but he knew that future action was futile. American and French losses numbered seventy-two killed and fewer than two hundred wounded.

Cornwallis, claiming illness, sent his deputy Charles O'Hara to surrender in his place. While the British band played "The World Turned Upside Down," O'Hara approached the allies and attempted to surrender his sword to his European peer rather than the rebel colonist. Rochambeau recognized the gesture and deferred to Washington. The American commander turned to his own deputy, Benjamin Lincoln, who accepted O'Hara's sword and the British surrender.

Several small skirmishes occurred after Yorktown, but for all practical purposes, the revolutionary war was over. The upheaval and embarrassment over the defeat at Yorktown brought down the British government, and the new officials authorized a treaty on September 3, 1783, that acknowledged the independence of the United States.

Yorktown directly influenced not only the United States but also France. The French support of the United States and their own war against Britain wrecked France's economy. More importantly, the idea of liberty from a tyrant, demonstrated by the Americans, motivated the French to begin their own revolution in 1789 that eventually led to the age of Napoleon and far greater wars.

The fledgling United States had to fight the British again in 1812 to guarantee its independence, but the vast area and resources of North America soon enlarged and enriched the new nation. By the end of the nineteenth century, the United States had become a world power by the end of the twentieth, it was the strongest and most influential nation in the world.

Before Yorktown, the United States was a collection of rebels struggling for independence. After Yorktown, it began a process of growth and evolution that would eventually lead to its present status as the longest-surviving democracy and most powerful country in history. The American Revolution, beginning at Lexington and Concord and drawing strength from Saratoga, culminated at Yorktown in the most influential battle in history.

Copyright 2005 Michael Lee Lanning All Rights Reserved

Michael Lee Lanning retired from the United States Army after more than twenty years of service. He is a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, where he served as an infantry platoon leader and company commander. The 'Top Ten Battles' article presented here is from his latest book: "The Battle 100: The Stories Behind History's Most Influential Battles," illustrated by Bob Rosenburgh. Lanning has written fourteen books on military history, including "The Military 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Military Leaders of All Time."

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8 May 1956

John Osborne's play 'Look Back in Anger' is staged

The 'Angry Young Men' generation of writers rejected what they saw as Britain's vulgar 'materialist' society, which they believed was disagreeable in itself and frustrating to them as individuals. Social values were lacerated by Osborne's play and in the novels 'Room at the Top' (1957) by John Braine, 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' (1958) by Alan Sillitoe, and 'This Sporting Life' (1960) by David Storey.


The 10 Most Powerful Women at the United Nations

In charge of budgets of over $5 billion, capable of mobilizing resources and 100,000 + staff worldwide. Responsible for the coordination of thousands of peacekeepers in conflict zones throughout the world, and leading negotiations for the release of child soldiers in Uganda.

Although there are many actors within the UN system making a positive impact in the international public sector, the 10 women featured here have a level of institutional power that is unprecedented in UN history.

These women are at the head of departments and agencies working to ensure that the right resources get to those who need them as swiftly as possible. They hail from countries all over the world, hold degrees in law, medicine, engineering, political science and military strategy, and have worked in positions as diverse as a senior manager at IBM, a Managing Director on Wall Street and the president of Chile.

Selected from the UN Senior Management Group, here, are the 10 Most Powerful Women at the United Nations.

Valerie Amos

Appointed in July 2010, Amos is the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief.

Formerly serving in positions as the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner to Australia and as Secretary of State for International Development, she is now responsible for directing strategies for handling complex man-made emergencies and natural disasters throughout the globe.

Appointed in September 2010, Bachelet is the Under-Secretary-General for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and head of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), a composite entity of four offices all focused on the advancement of women.

Formerly serving as the president of Chile (2006 – 2010), and as a health and defense minister, Bachelet now directs the UN’s global efforts around women's rights in various contexts, including conflict settings, access to education and with regard to environment and health.

Appointed in August 2009, Cheng-Hopkins is the Assistant-Secretary-General for Peace-Building Support.

Formerly a Director of the World Food Programme, she now helps lead the UN’s Peace-Building Support Office, which coordinates all of the other UN agencies in their peace-building efforts in conflict and post-conflict situations, ranging from Afghanistan to Uganda to Sudan.

Appointed in March 2009, Clark is the Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Formerly the PM of New Zealand (1999 - 2008), she now heads the agency tasked with assisting developing economies to both attract and most effectively utilize development aid through various initiatives including the Millennium Development Goals, 15 global development targets around democratic governance, poverty reduction, crime prevention and recovery, environment and energy, and HIV/AIDS, as well as an overarching goal of cutting global poverty in half by 2015.

Radhika Coomaraswamy

Appointed in February 2006, Coomaraswamy is the Special Representative and Under-Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. A lawyer by training, and graced with the title of Deshamanya (literally translated as “Pride of the Nation”) in her native Sri Lanka, Coomaraswamy serves as an independent moral voice on behalf of children violated in situations of conflict around the world.

The changing nature of conflict has dramatically increased the proportion of civilian casualties worldwide to more than 90% half of these victims are children. In this context, Coomaraswamy works to promote and protect the rights of all children affected by armed conflict.

Angela Kane

Appointed in May 2008, Kane is the Under-Secretary-General for Management.

A native of Germany with myriad UN posts under her belt, she is head of the Department of Management, which provides services to support the day-to-day operations of the global UN Secretariat, which has some 44,000 staff members and a regular program budget of US $5.156 billion.

Susana Malcorra

Appointed in March 2008, Malcorra is the Under-Secretary-General and Head of the Department of Field Support.

Formerly CEO of Telecom Argentina and a senior manager at IBM, Malcorra now leads UN staff across 32 field operations, comprised of over 100,000 military, police and civilian personnel. Her department supports and makes budgetary, tactical and human resource decisions related to peacekeeping, humanitarian and political field operations throughout the globe.

Patricia O’Brien

Appointed in August 2008, O’Brien is the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the UN Legal Counsel. She is the first woman to hold this position.

Formerly the Legal Advisor to the Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, O’Brien now oversees some 200 staff and a biennial budget of approximately $60 million. The objective of her office is to provide unified central legal service on questions of international and national, public, private, procedural and administrative law, including international public and trade law.

Navanehtem Pillay

Appointed in July 2008, Pillay is the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the principle UN human rights official, which has a mandate to promote and protect all human rights.

Formerly a judge in the International Criminal Court, and the first woman to start a law practice in South Africa’s Natal Province, Pillay now leads the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right’s efforts to empower individuals and assist states in upholding human rights.

Josette Sheeran

Appointed in April 2007, Sheeran is the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian agency.

Formerly the under secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, as well as a Managing Director of Starpoint Solutions, a leading Wall Street technology firm, Sheeran now oversees the World Food Programme’s work in at least 80 of the world’s poorest countries, providing food to an average of 90 million people ever year.

Author's note: Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro is the current Deputy-Secretary-General of the United Nations, making her the highest-ranking woman in UN history. Learn more about Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro.

This is the first in a series of blog posts leading up to Forbes' The 100 Most Powerful Women 2011, which will be released August 24. Stay tuned for more top 10 lists. We welcome your ideas and picks for who's who of the World's Most Powerful Women.

I'm a writer and coach who works in leadership development for a global consulting firm. I'm also the co-author of Women in Power at the UN: Stories to Inspire. My blog,…

I'm a writer and coach who works in leadership development for a global consulting firm. I'm also the co-author of Women in Power at the UN: Stories to Inspire. My blog, Positive Impact, highlights how people are using various forms of power (institutional power, personal power, collective technological power) to lead the way in making a positive impact. In the past, I've worked in environmental consulting for both the private and public sectors, with a focus on sustainability and carbon management. I also have extensive international experience and have worked with various NGOs on social and economic development issues.


Watch the video: Οι κορυφαίες και πιο αστείες στιγμές του Ελληνικού Ποδοσφαίρο. Γεγονότα που θα μείνουν στην ιστορία