Historical situations where the seemingly right choice was very wrong
October 9, 2014 12:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for historical/political situations or decisions that made perfect, logical sense at the time but in retrospect seem terribly misguided or worse. These should be situations that when presented very simply, it is clear and easy to say, "Obviously XYZ is the right choice " but where in fact XYZ ends up being an awful choice. Example and further details inside.

An example of something that I'm looking for would be:

It is time to elect a new world leader, and only your vote counts. Here are the facts about the three leading candidates.
  • Candidate A - Associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologists. He's had two Mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.
  • Candidate B - He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening.
  • Candidate C - He is a decorated war hero. He's a vegetarian, doesn't smoke, drinks an occasional beer and never cheated on his wife.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the example, A is FDR, B is Churchill, and C is Hitler.

I'm looking for any situation, not just in regard to candidates. The two examples listed under Cobra Effect are also things I would use. The more unknown the situation, the better. I will be presenting these situations (mixed with correct solution situations) to students and asking them to come up with solutions; ideally many of them will choose the "obvious" solution and after the reveal, we will be able to discuss their decision making process. The intent is to show students that hindsight is 20/20 and making a tough choice in the moment is often not as easy as it seems.

Any ideas are appreciated!
posted by _DB_ to Grab Bag (43 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Not a political issue at all, but the first thing that your question brought to mind for me was the story (which I think I originally found on the blue, actually) of a family of German tourists who died in Death Valley after getting lost and getting their minivan stuck in a ditch. They set out on foot - in absolutely the worst possible direction. Indeed it was considered so obviously a terrible choice in that situation that nobody imagined they would have actually gone that way. Nobody looked for them in that direction and their bodies weren't found for more than a decade.

The people who ultimately found them, or at least some traces of them, realized that they might have had a very good reason to think that was the right way to go. Heartbreaking story, but interesting for the lesson in how a series of poor small choices can snowball into tragedy.
posted by Naberius at 12:21 PM on October 9, 2014 [11 favorites]

There's tons of this in the infrastructure of cities. Building the Southeast Expressway in Boston made perfect sense at the time in the 1950s--easier commute to Boston from the suburbs! Fast! Efficient! Modern! BAH ha ha. It was torn town just a few years ago (and the current setup isn't much better).

Fortunately, the similar expressway that Robert Moses envisioned for New York City was never built.

In Pittsburgh, the building of factories a hundred years ago was seen as great progress. No one thought about the environmental or respiratory damage at the time.

I'm sure cracked.com has a list or two of these somewhere.
posted by Melismata at 12:29 PM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

GDP used to be measured by the number of smokestacks per country, more smoke is more production is more better, right?
posted by Cosine at 12:31 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I can think of a few:

1. Greek city states at war. One city is invaded by several other cities. They fight off the invasion, and horse the invaders back into the sea. The invading army makes an offering to the God of Sea for safe passage home. The victorious city decides to bring the offering to the God into their own temple. They just accepted the Trojan Horse, and marked the doom of your city.

2. You are pilgrims falling behind on the Oregon Trail. The season is getting late. You hear about a potential short cut that will save you time. The short cut ends up not being marked very well, and you end up getting snowed into the Sierra Nevada mountains. Hello Donner Party and cannibalism.

3. M&M candy is offered a product placement opportunity in a new movie being made by a young director. The director is asking for $1million for product placement, by far the highest amount ever asked for any product placement in any movie up to that time. The nature of the product placement in the movie can not be disclosed because of secrecy about the movie. Little known director, super high price, for unknown placement - M&M passes. Reese's Pieces takes a chance - and ends up getting an estimated value over $2billion in product exposure and advertising by being the candy in the key scene of Steve Speilberg's epic ET.
posted by Flood at 12:34 PM on October 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

Prohibition started out just like this. If you watch the Ken Burns documentary it seems really cut and dried.

A. Drunkards are ruining families.
B. Removing alcohol will prevent drunkards.
C. Removing legal alcohol allowed criminals to build massive, organized crime enterprises to provide alcohol and the crime enterprises are problems still to this day, even though prohibition was repealed.

Same for making narcotics illegal.

Mandatory Sentencing guidelines for those convicted of drug crimes. Lots of people serving very harsh penalties for drug crimes, while violent criminals don't have the same sentencing issues. Result: over-crowded prisons where the punishment does not fit the crime for some prisoner, while others who should serve more time are released early.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:35 PM on October 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

Check out the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Pretty classic blunder in line with what you're talking about.
posted by Carillon at 12:36 PM on October 9, 2014

I suspect a lot of medical history fits the bill here---professed "cures" that just made things worse.

For example, bloodletting
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 12:39 PM on October 9, 2014

The Russian Empire's sale of Alaska. It seemed like a worthless Arctic wasteland—of all the nations on Earth, which one already had that aplenty—vulnerable to seizure in the event of war but without value to justify the expenditure necessary to hold on to. Britain didn't even bother to bid, and on America's side the transaction was derided as a brain-dead goof, "Seward's Folly" and "Seward's Icebox".

But then it turned out to be full of gold and oil and politicians who can make millions in book tours, and would have provided and overpowering military advantage to the Soviet Union for siting missiles during the cold war.
posted by XMLicious at 12:44 PM on October 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

Cultural values change.

In some centuries, to some people, it was obvious that the savage, naked, pagan natives should be given the gifts of civilization. Violent resistance to these efforts was just more proof that the native people really needed help.

Western society has inherited the results, but the values of our educated class have now turned decidedly against the actions of our predecessors. What was once a virtuous imperative is now considered evil.
posted by General Tonic at 12:47 PM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: More information in regard to Baeria's questions.

The students that will be in this course are all very high performing students from a very homogeneous, affluent area. They are young HS age and few if any have had to make what most would consider legitimately tough decisions in life.

In previous courses we've talked about current events and they tend to have an attitude of "The answer is clear! Why don't they just do XYZ?" Similarly, if we talk about historical examples, they often say things like "That was a terrible decision - how did they not realize that they were making a mistake?" As these are all very intelligent students, they have valid reasoning behind their choices and criticisms but they often fail to see other viewpoints, even those just as reasoned and logical.

What I want them to understand is that the world isn't black and white, cut and dried when it comes to making the right choices - sometimes you make the best choice you can, based on the information you have, and it turns out wrong. They don't seem to understand how it's possible that an intelligent person can ever make an incorrect choice, and that is what I want to address. My intent is not to convince them that the world is arbitrary and that it doesn't matter what choice you make. The intent is to make them more understanding of the complexities of decisions in life and that very few situations are A = right, B = wrong.
posted by _DB_ at 12:52 PM on October 9, 2014 [11 favorites]

Let The March of Folly be your guide.

Deliberate introduction of non-aboriginal flora and fauna is a rich area to explore. Robert Moses.
posted by BWA at 12:57 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't think your example really illustrates that hindsight is 20/20. All it seems to illustrate is that the cherry-picking of facts in totally different historical contexts doesn't work.

For me a "hindsight is 20/20" thing may be the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Administration claimed they had WMDs, they claim we'd be liberators, they claimed it would be easy to win, they said they would love democracy. The war took years (and cost much in dollars and human life), region is destabilized, democracy hasn't elected the sort of leadership we had hoped, a group like ISIS has been able to flourish, and it seems impossible for the U.S. to not invest tons of money and resources in the region for years to come now. Supposedly going into Iraq was supposed to make the world more safe and it has clearly made the world less safe. This made be something liberals had argued at the time, but conservatives have come around to admitted it was a mistake to go into Iraq.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:57 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

The rewriting of history in this thread hurts my mind.

There is no good evidence the Trojan horse ever existed.

The Donner Party was always heading by the Sierra Nevada route. If they did something wrong it was choosing that route in the first place.

Steven Spielberg was not a little known director at the time of ET. He made Jaws, one of the biggest money making films of all time. Close Encounters scored $337,000,000. Raiders of the Lost Ark was a huge hit. Then came ET.

To say Hitler never cheated on his wife leaves out the fact he was never married. You also left out his prison term. He was not "the seemingly right choice" unless you extremely selectively edit.

That said, putting the Shah in power in Iran was one of the 20th centuries' biggest mistakes. Followed by supporting the mujahideen.

Choosing Sarah Palin as your running mate.

The Iraqi War of 2003 seemed a good idea to some.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:58 PM on October 9, 2014 [27 favorites]

During the Civil War, the South's invasion of the North seemed like the necessary thing to do to get the Union to if not surrender, then at least come to the bargaining table. Unfortunately for them, their failed invasion pretty much sealed their demise. If you want to be more granular, Pickett's charge, the "high-water mark," shares the same characteristics.
posted by General Malaise at 1:05 PM on October 9, 2014

I am a stock trader. I am wrong on about 60+% of my trades, yet I make money. It is not about making decisions that are wrong. It is about how soon you recognize you are wrong and what action you take to correct. From a trading standpoint, I constantly ask myself, "Self, if you had no position here, what would you do?" If the answer is not put on the position I currently have on, I get out. Hindsight is 20-20, but the key is to learn from hindsight.

In your example with FDR, Churchill and Hitler, you are suggesting a decision be made based on the facts presented, but those are both incomplete facts available and may not be relevant to running a country. What does being a vegan have to do with running a country?

I agree that you make the best decision you can with the available information, but after that there is so much more. I also think that sometimes the correct response is I need more information that I know can be made available, this information is not relevant.
posted by 724A at 1:08 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Broad-based standardized testing with the current rewards/punishments system for schools. No Child Left Behind initiative, etc. Very current, and a bit complex, but the trials of the teachers in Atlanta say something vividly.
posted by amtho at 1:10 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

dances_with_sneetches: "That said, putting the Shah in power in Iran was one of the 20th centuries' biggest mistakes."

I assume you mean the restoration of the shah in 1953. His accession in 1941, following the forced resignation of his father, is not considered a particularly bad move, to my knowledge.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:11 PM on October 9, 2014

Hitler married his girlfriend the day before they committed suicide.
posted by Melismata at 1:12 PM on October 9, 2014

The M&M's thing reminded me how Verizon had the chance to be the exclusive first carrier for Apple's cellphone back in 2005 or so. They didn't like the terms so they declined. AT&T (Cingular) got the deal and it was a huge boom for them for a few years.
posted by radioamy at 1:13 PM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

In 1848 King Kamehameha of Hawai`i initiated sweeping land reforms known as the Great Māhele. The feudal system was abolished. Approximately 1/3 of the land was reserved for the Crown, 1/3 for the ruling class (ali`i), and 1/3 for common people.

Sounds great in theory, but it resulted in non-royal Hawaiians becoming completely possessed as the ali`i and foreigners gained control of almost all the land.


A lot of revolutions sound great in theory but also end poorly.
posted by kanewai at 1:13 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, I think OP really needs before and after situations. "Based on these facts, do you go to war, or do you not?" I mean, you could even use the American revolution and not tell your students that what it is. Do you want to revolt against a country that has way more troops than you, way more money and is better trained? Or do you want to choose some other option? (I am not expert on American revolutionary history, but maybe working things out diplomatically was an option.) I'm guessing the students will choose not to go to war. They would be "wrong" because going to war worked despite what may have seemed to be circumstances not in the colonies' favor.

The candidate example just is a really terrible way to illustrate OP's point.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:15 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

It is time to elect a new world leader, and only your vote counts. Here are the facts about the three leading candidates.
Candidate A - Associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologists. He's had two Mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.
Candidate B - He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening.
Candidate C - He is a decorated war hero. He's a vegetarian, doesn't smoke, drinks an occasional beer and never cheated on his wife.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the example, A is FDR, B is Churchill, and C is Hitler.

That's actually a really terrible example, because you're cherry-picking from a lot more information that was known about these guys at the time. You picked every bad attribute from A and B and every good one from C, but we knew a hell of a lot more about those people than you mentioned. It would be making an awful decision based on the wrong criteria.
posted by empath at 1:16 PM on October 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

And, by the way, Hitler associated with crooked politicians and consulted astrologists. You Godwin-ed your own thread, dude. (or ma'am)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:18 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Leaving Grant in charge during the Civil War when he was deemed by many people to be a "monster."

President Lincoln was really given hell about General Grant. It was a huge political liability at the time. General Grant was an alcoholic and ne'er-do-well who had trouble keeping a job for much of his life. The North had only one advantage over the South: Numbers of bodies. The South had better manufacturing (which is why Atlanta was burned to the ground: They just kept resupplying the troops) and General Lee was a brilliant strategist and tactician. Grant was the only one in the North making any real headway against Lee because he was the only one willing to use that sole advantage of numbers of bodies. The civilian population was appalled at the high number of caskets coming home, they were calling Grant a "monster" and they wanted him removed.

Not only did he win the war, but because he had been an alcoholic and ne'er-do-well, when he accepted Lee's surrender at Appomattox, he did an essentially unprecedented thing and, instead of saddling the South with war reparations and a long list of conditions, the list was quite short and included "you will let the North come in and help you rebuild." This is likely why America has, uncharacteristically, had only a single civil war. Most countries that have a civil war seem to have one after another after another, each subsequent one rooted in the bitter unhealed wounds of the last.

This is likely also why America occupied both Germany and Japan and helped rebuild after WWII. It was astonishingly successful to exercise compassion instead of kicking and abusing the losing side. So Grant's actions and the precedent he set, in a world which had historically routinely demanded war reparations from the losing side, may be part of why a) America has only had one civil war and b) we have yet to see a World War III. All because Lincoln decided to keep backing a "monster."

(You should do some fact checking. I have read books and what not which talk about some of this, but this is pretty off the cuff, so I can't guarantee 100% accuracy.)

On preview: Do you want to revolt against a country that has way more troops than you, way more money and is better trained?

My oldest son, who reads a lot more than I do, has told me that something like 70% of the time, when a smaller nation goes up against a bigger one in war, the smaller one wins. This is counterintuitive. If accurate, you could probably come up with a lot of examples that would fit the bill of what you are trying to do here.

(Though please do not use "David and Goliath" as an example of this type thing because my understanding is the way that gets presented and colloquially understood totally distorts the situation.)
posted by Michele in California at 1:25 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

When they did the first atom bomb testing in the Nevada desert, no one had any idea that radiation was the slightest bit poisonous. There are famous photos of people cleaning up the area right at ground zero, with no protection at all. A good one for your students: if they didn't want to get cancer, why didn't they just wear protection? Because they didn't know.
posted by Melismata at 1:27 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Axis saw Yugoslavia as a poor, fractious country, with a weak army, but rich in natural resources. So, the Axis powers carved it into flinders, in attempt to "divide and conquer" it for better exploitation.

Huge mistake. The Axis had accurately observed Yugoslavia, but only on the thinnest surface level. They overestimated their own strength, they underestimated everyone else's strength. They never contemplated that their invasion would transform the country itself. They never thought about how their actions would create certain reactions in the populace. They never thought about what would happen if their own power should shrink.

The Axis occupation resulted in the rise and rise of Tito's Partisans, whose pan-Yugoslav resistance caught on like wildfire, eventually pinning down the technically superior Axis forces. Brutal Axis violence, especially reprisals, only further emboldened the Partisan resistance. Attempts to "Germanize" certain areas backfired as well: deporting Slovene community leaders to Serbia only made the resistance stronger, as it was putting more pissed-off Yugoslavs in contact with other pissed-off Yugoslavs.

The Germans thought they could avoid some of the chaos of Yugoslavia by being "generous" with how much of it they handed off to Italy. They never thought about how this would backfire when Italy eventually surrendered: the moment they surrender is the moment you suddenly have to commit 10% of your total troops to retaking your former ally's land. Italian occupation was no better, either: when the train tracks were constantly getting sabotaged by Partisans, they had the dingdong idea to evict every Slovene who lived within a certain range of the train tracks. Great move, idiots: now you've turned 10,000 Yugoslavs into pissed off homeless people, who will then move to the rural areas, where the Partisans have the most control.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:28 PM on October 9, 2014


Free trade! Who doesn't love free trade? What can possibly go wrong?
posted by mkultra at 1:31 PM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

See also: The Streisand Effect.
posted by Michele in California at 1:35 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Spanish Armada
posted by ckape at 1:42 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

the AOL-time warner merger.
posted by bruce at 1:50 PM on October 9, 2014

The Essex was a whaling ship which was rammed and sunk by a whale in 1820. Three lifeboats of survivors could have made for the Marquesas islands, but they had heard rumors that there were cannibals there. Instead they chose to make for South America, which was much, much farther. Almost all of them died, and the survivors ended up resorting to eating the bodies of their dead comrades to survive.
posted by Adridne at 1:52 PM on October 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

My favorite social studies teacher did an exercise like this that I remember thirty years later. He described two socio-economic/political systems to us without naming them, and told us to choose the one that sounded best. He went on for several minutes about each, and he did a pretty fair job of describing some pros and cons, though he may have leaned a little in favor of the answer he wanted us to choose.

Of course we were all shocked, in the mid-1980's, to find that we'd overwhelmingly voted for communism.
posted by ldthomps at 1:55 PM on October 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

Also, Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese intent was to take out all the American ships stationed in Hawaii so that the Pacific would be essentially undefended. Not only did they fail (because some ships were simply not anchored in the harbor that day), but it drew the U.S. into the war. Thus you have the phrase "I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant" (or something like that).
posted by Michele in California at 1:57 PM on October 9, 2014

The Maginot Line.

Earlier, Germany's belief they could pass through Belgium and that the war would be over in a month.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:06 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

The teaching method you are describing sounds similar to the use of teaching cases in graduate programs in business and public policy here in the United States. In a teaching case, a difficult situation is described and several options considered by the decision-makers are laid out. During class, the students frequently discuss the decision they would make (or do other exercises like role-plays, etc.). At the end of class, the professor usually distributes a short postscriptum that describes what actually happened and whether or not it worked. A hallmark of a good teaching case is ensuring that the answer does not seem obvious and that all options look potentially dangerous and appealing. A case that has been taught a lot will also frequently come with teaching notes with questions and exercises that can help guide the discussion and help students learn the kinds of skills you are looking to build. There are many business cases (some about well-known companies/products), public policy cases, cases about school reform, etc.

One good source for teaching cases is Electronic Hallway. Another is Harvard's repository. Does your class have a specific topic or a theme?
posted by whimwit at 2:15 PM on October 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

It might be more helpful for you to find some primary sources like newspapers and letters of the time, and have the students try to see if they can predict what actually will happen. We've done some classroom experiments with primary sources from the months before Black Friday and had students place articles in piles based on whether they predict the crash or whether they don't. It's kind of neat to see how even when you don't know a great deal about a subject, you can extrapolate out a good bit and predict the outcome via hindsight. In a recent session, one thing that stood out to the students was the total lack of any speech by the president on the economy. Everyone agreed that was significant proof that the crash was unpredictable. Of course, what they didn't know in that era, Presidents didn't frequently talk to the press about economic blips and changes.

Also, the whole Grant is a drunk and only won the war by throwing bodies at the South is not really the consensus among historians. Grant thought a lot about how to beat the South and really had a longer view of the whole process that his predecessors failed to have. He suggested emancipation as a way of undermining the Southern war machine, and he continually mentioned that the way to reduce casualties was to win the damn war, not the battles.
posted by teleri025 at 2:27 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Not to threadsit, but an answer to whimwit's question: this will be in the course described in this question.
posted by _DB_ at 2:30 PM on October 9, 2014

So (from the ask): global politics and economics.

During The Great Depression, there was a Dust Bowl. Farmers were just not making money and were thus unable to make payments on a lot of stuff. So tractor companies were repossessing tractors right and left in order to recoup their money. And this was the wrong thing to do because it was so very widespread that there was no one to sell them to. You could not get your money back this way.

In contrast, John Deere decided to extend credit (during The Great Depression! -- it looked nuts) to the farmers and tell them to keep their tractors, they would need them when the Dust Bowl was over, and to pay when they could at some later date. I read an article once that indicated that for decades afterwards, tractor salespeople from other companies would just keep driving if they saw a John Deere on the property because those families were so incredibly loyal to the company. This is likely why John Deere is such a big company to this day.
posted by Michele in California at 2:44 PM on October 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

ldthomps: "Of course we were all shocked, in the mid-1980's, to find that we'd overwhelmingly voted for communism."

STUDENTS ALWAYS AND INFALLIBLY DO! (Make them invent a social contract for a new planet they're settling. They are all communists who want to control other people's sex lives!)

Arming the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in their war against the Soviet Union in 1979-1989 seemed like a great idea at the time to Carter and then Reagan, even though some of the mujahedeen at the time were already openly talking about the "great Satan" of the United States and the "little Satan" of the USSR. Eventually, those mujahedeen mostly became affiliated with al-Qaeda, as did the weapons, and how terrible an idea this actually was became clear after 9/11. Americans are still getting shot at by American weaponry in the hands of extremists in Afghanistan/Pakistan!

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend" is almost always a terrible idea in retrospect. Mobutu Sese Seko and Pinochet were both US-backed horrible dictators and war criminals whose primary attraction was being "not commies." The US supported Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war because Iran was our bigger enemy at the time. Those leap to mind but there are plenty more.

This doesn't have an answer yet, but it's really hard to tell right now what the right response against ISIS is.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:22 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

You might want to take into consideration the fact that your students are IMO 100% correct. Given the information in most high school history books, no right-minded person would ever make the decisions that were made historically. This is because the books are one-sided and lacking all nuance, not because there is something wrong with the students' perception.

Rather than trying to come up with contrived examples for them to parse, they might do well to compare an account of one event to the relevant Peoples' History chapter, or from another book with a radically different perspective, or from multiple varying first-hand accounts of an event and then let them decide how to figure out what the actual truth is.
posted by zug at 4:49 PM on October 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

You might like some of the units from Interact.

The company publishes a lot of classroom simulations, and there are plenty in the government/economics/history vein aimed at high schoolers. The prices are very reasonable and they offer a complete package-- teacher instructions, handouts to copy, etc. Many of the simulations will have students read various inputs/opinions and then try to decide on a course of action, but they will get different roles and so they will be reading through different points of view. There are simulations for both historical situations and for generic ones such as "How would you organize a new country?"

The only caveat I will throw in is that their grade-level organization has a 7-12 category, which is a pretty wide range, especially when you are working with high performing high schoolers. I taught honors 9th grade and found some of the World History offerings to be a bit simplistic because most states cover World History in middle school. You should have better luck with the government/economics/global offerings though.
posted by scarnato at 10:28 PM on October 10, 2014

1. If you're Germany in WWI, do you send Lenin into Russia? If he overthrows the government, you probably win the war. (He does, and they at least win that half...but it still doesn't work out very well in the long run.)
2. Farming in the Depression. Prices are low, so you grow more, so prices drop further, so you have to grow more, and eventually you lose the farm anyway.
3. The whole start of WWI. You have to mobilize your army to protect yourself, because it takes forever. But this is an act of war, so now you're at war with everybody and you can't stop it. See also Germany's plan for war with Russia, in which step 1 is to roll (actually walk) through Belgium and beat France before the Russians are ready.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:15 AM on October 11, 2014

You may want to look into the curriculum units in the Reacting to the Past series. They're aimed at advanced students, but are meant to bring students into the perspective of decisionmakers at the time of some big historical decisions - for example, should ancient Athens stay democratic even after the people voted for a disastrous military mission that brought the city to the brink of ruin, or should it adopt a system where the best-qualified people are put into leadership roles? Students are assigned roles to play and they read Plato's Republic and have debates about it where they try to convince voters of their side.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:04 PM on October 16, 2014

« Older Trip to Wales - am I on the right track?   |   The Secret Policeman's Other Museum Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.