History's Least Funny Bloopers & Practical Jokes

Leaders speaking of “decisive battles” are usually about to lead their nations into disaster.

Users of that phrase (or reasonable fascimiles) include Hitler — twice! — about Stalingrad in 1943 and Normandy in 1944. For those unfamiliar with history, Germany lost both battles, the war, and her national integrity for 50 years.


In May of 1942, Tojo promised Japan a decisive battle soon against the United States. The next month, the heart was cut out of the Japanese Imperial Navy at Midway.

In 1968, General Westmoreland predicted a decisive win soon in Vietnam. I probably don’t have to tell you what really happened.

In the Civil War — yes, the South really did lose — General Lee said Gettysburg would prove the desicive battle against the North. Oops.

Today, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee promised rival Pakistan a decisive battle, if they don’t back down over Kashmir.

I’m much more worried tonight about war — even nuclear war — in South Asia than I was yesterday. I still put the odds at one in five against. But I have to admit it’s looking worse.


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