War is always devastating, leaving every participant worse than they were when it started, which is why all wars end in a truce of some kind. The world has had two major wars that involved the whole globe, but a close look at the cause of each war proves that fighting was never necessary, to begin with. All that suffering could have been prevented by just a little bit of common sense if people sat at the table and talked. While killing the heir to the Austrian throne may be accepted by some as a reason to go to war, killing a pig may not. Here is a look at 10 of the dumbest reasons why people went to war.
A Football Match
Football matches are always noisy, and rivalry and hooliganism are not strange. However, when a match ends in two nations throwing bombs at one another, then it becomes something else. There were tensions between Honduras and El Salvador before the World Cup qualifying match in 1969. El Salvador was angry about the expulsion of thousands of its people from their settlements in Honduras which put too much pressure on the little land available back home.
In the qualifiers, El Salvador and Honduras had drawn in the first two matches that were played in their respective capitals, so the deciding match was played in Mexico City amid heightened tensions. El Salvador won 3:2, and the tensions at the border intensified in the days that followed, leading to El Salvador invading Honduras. In what was dabbed the 100-hour war, more than 3000 people died, and many more casualties were reported on both sides. The war ended after international condemnation for the war forced each side to drawback.
The US and Great Britain were not the greatest friends in the mid-1800s, and wars could be fought over nothing and everything. One of the things fought over at the time was the San Juan island, which was claimed by both countries and had both British and American settlers. On June 15, a pig belonging to Charles Griffin, a British farmer, wandered onto the land of Lyman Cutler, an American. Mr Cutler shot the pig, and the British authorities on the island threatened to arrest him.
The Americans wrote to General William Harney, leader of the Department of Oregon, requesting military protection from the British, and it was promptly delivered in the form of the 66 man squad of the US 9th infantry to the island. The British responded even more radically by sending three warships to reinforce the Hudson Bay Company, which was already stationed on the island. At the peak of the standoff, both countries had 2,600 soldiers ready to blast each other to kingdom come. The standoff was resolved without bloodshed, and the island was given over to the US.
The War Of Camel
Unlike the war of the pig in which no one died, this one went on for decades with thousands of casualties. This war is used as a lesson from Arabian folklore as a warning against keeping vendettas. It started when the leader of the Taghlib tribe killed a camel belonging to a member of the Bakr tribe in 494. The owner of the camel and his friend, in turn, went and killed the camel killer, and so began the Basus war, which lasted for 40 years and nearly wiped out the Taghlib tribe.
The War Over Jenkin’s Ear
Will your country go to war for you if someone from another country cut off your ear? Well, Britain did. On October 17, 1939, Britain declared war on Spain over the ear of Captain Robert Jenkins of the British brig Rebecca, a cargo ship. The event happened off the coast of Cuba in 1931 when the Spanish coast guard forcefully boarded Jenkin’s ship to search it for contraband and cut off his ear, telling him to take it to King George. In 1938, Jenkins was brought into the British parliament, waving his ear as the opposition forced the prime minister to declare war. Many more ears and worse were cut in the war that resulted in thousands of deaths.
A Stray Dog
On October 22, 1925, a Greek soldier guarding the frontier near the Bulgarian town of Petrich crossed the border to retrieve his dog, which had crossed into Bulgaria. Bulgarian soldiers shot the soldier and immediately realized their mistake and raised the white flag. The Greeks were furious and demanded two million Francs and an apology to the family of the soldier within 48 hours. The Greeks also demanded swift and severe punishment for the shooters within the same time. When the Bulgarians delayed, Greek troops stormed Bulgaria and occupied several towns near the frontier, killing several soldiers and civilians. Greece was threatening to bomb the city of 10,000 people until the League of Nations negotiated a treaty a few weeks later.
The Pastry War
The Mexican independence from Spain of 1821 did not go well with many countries, including France, who were owed a huge debt. During the riots and looting that happened after the declaration of independence, Mexican officers looted and destroyed a pastry shop that belonged to a French chef named Remontel. The chef demanded compensation from the Mexican government, but it was denied, so he went back home and requested the help of the French government.
The French demanded that Mexico pay them 600,000 pesos, including 60,000 for the pastry shop whose value didn’t exceed 1,000. The Mexicans refused, and the French blockaded Mexico in 1938, and the US was only too happy to help. It culminated in the November 1938 occupation of the city of Veracruz, in which nearly the entire Mexican Navy was captured. British diplomats negotiated a truce that saw Mexico pay the full amounts demanded by France for the blockade to end in 1939.
The Battle Of The Oaken Bucket
In medieval times, wars between different city-states in Italy were very common, especially because of religious differences. Modena was a Ghibelline state, meaning they believed that the Holy Roman Emperor was the true leader. The neighbouring Bologna was Guelph, as in they believed that the pope, John XXII at the time, was the true leader of the state. In 1325, a bunch of Modenese crept into Bologna and stole an oaken bucket from the community well, which the officials immediately demanded. The Modenese officials refused, and so an army of 32,000 Bolognese attacked Modena. The war ended with many casualties, but the bucket was never retrieved. It is still on display at a museum in Modena.
A bottle Of Booze
This is also considered by many as the biggest fail in the history of war. It happened during the conflict between Austria and Turkey over the control of the Danube river on the night of September 21, 1788. Austrian soldiers who were made of different groups that spoke different languages were stationed in Karansebes, awaiting a battle that was to take place the following day. A bunch of scouts was sent across the river to scout for Turks when they met some locals that gave them free alcohol.
When another group of soldiers from the Austrian side came to the village and requested to join the party, the first group refused, and so a brawl started that led to the firing of a bullet. Across the river in Karansebes, the soldiers assumed it was the Turks attacking, so when the brawling group crossed the river to enter their camp, they were confused for enemy combatants and so started the battle in which over 10,000 people from the same army were killed. Turks had an easy time taking over the town the following day.
The War Over Bird Poop
Spain was never recovered from its loss of colonies in South America because of the hit the country’s GDP took as a result of the loss of territory. In 1864, Spain tried to win some of that back by occupying the Chincha Islands off the coast of Peru, which were known for their enormous amounts of Guano, which is simply bird droppings. Bird droppings were a precious commodity in those days that could be used to make fertilizer and even ammunition. Peru retaliated and soon dragged in Chile, leading to a blockade of the island that saw Spain forced to leave Peru’s precious resource alone.
The Battle Of The Royal Stool
In the Ashanti community in Ghana, the golden royal stool was very precious as it was considered the heart of the community. The locals believed that the stool housed the souls of the entire community, including the unborn, so when the governor of the Gold Coast, then a British colony, demanded the stool to take it to Queen Victoria, the Ashanti people were more than insulted. They ambushed a search party sent to retrieve and stool and laid siege on the Kumasi office of the British Colony for the better part of the year until reinforcements were sent from London that killed tens of thousands of Ashanti warriors to bring the tribesmen to submission again.