I just read something on this and I thought it an interesting concept, that one fight could, by a chain reaction change the course of human history. I know they all do to some degree or another, but what was the biggest, most important one in the history of humanity?
Whatever the big battle of today is would be the biggest battle to shape history, because we are much more linked together as a global community than ever before. What happens in Afghanistan, for instance, would have a much larger impact on humnanity not only now, but in the future, than anything in the Civil War or even WWII.
Not necessarily true. A battle in Afghanistan today could mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Hell, we've been fighting there for years, and I doubt much of what happened will echo in history.
Think about Gettysburg (as the case was made for this battle).
The Confederacy wins, the country gets split into two countries, maybe four or five depending, and then we have a European situation on this continent. When Europe gets into WWI and WWII, it's no longer a united US fighting over there and, more importantly, in Asia. Now it's other countries, maybe even on different sides, fighting.
Maybe Hitler wins WWII because the North lost Gettysburg. Maybe the Soviet Union defeats Germany in the 60s because there was no America to stop them.
That's kind of what I'm talking about. It's hard to look at things going on now and predict what might happen.
Well, in that case I would say that the behind-the-scenes diplomatic battle between the North, South, England and France was more important than any battle fought with weaponry in the Civil War. Secretary of State Seward went to Europe and made it very clear that if either of those European powers were to enter the war, the North may well lose to them, but the North would also take as many Europeans with them as possible. This threat kept England and France out of it until it essentially became too late for them to enter and have any real impact without inevitably severe damage to themselves. By mid-1862, the risk to England and France had become much greater than the reward.
At the same time the South decided to try to lure these powers into war by raising their cotton prices. The South mistakenly thought that this huge spike in price would give England and France a reason to enter on the South's behalf, if for no other reason than to lower the price of cotton back down for them. The South knew that these powers did not want to see our little experiment in democract succeed and they thought the cotton prices would be the thing to tip them over the edge and pull them in. But this plan backfired on the South when England and France said fuck it and bought their cotton from Egypt instead.
If either England or France had entered the war on the side of the South, the North would have been engaged in a war with four fronts (north, south, east and west instead of primarily to their south, and in the west to a lesser extent). But Seward was able to keep them out of the war. If he had failed in this diplomatic battle and the South had won it, there would never have been a Gettysburg, there probably wouldn't be nearly the same form of democracy that we have today, England and France would probably be the dominant superpowers today, etc, etc.
The most important battles in modern history aren't fought with guns and bullets.
The turning point of World War II, with estimated combined casualties of close to 2 million. It was Hitler's aim to seize oilfields in Azerbaijan and Chechnya, thus cutting off the Soviet's main supply and securing it for the Reich. Unfortunately for the German war effort, he made the decision to divide his armies to capture both Stalingrad and the oilfields. Ultimately, neither objective was achieved. If Hitler had allowed Paulus to retreat from Stalingrad, the course of both the war and world history could have been drastically different. Hitler's dreams of world domination died on the banks of the Volga, drowned in the blood of Soviet troops.
wouldn't your question have to do with what country? Do you mean as an American or as a person of the world? That is a big difference in regards to answer. Caesar crossing the Rubicon wasn't a battle but such a turning point.
For American History I am going with Polk's Mexican American. It fulfilled the Manifest Destiny and cemented our modern borders.
You could also argue that the battle for political control of Iran and its oil fields between the Anglo-Iranian Petroleum Company, Mohammed Mossadegh and Kermit Roosevelt (acting on behalf of the CIA) was the most important battle in modern history. Because of that power struggle you could argue that Russia was significantly weakened, Britain (and by extension the U.S.) was significantly strengthened, Iran is now a theocracy largely controlled by the Ayatollah and there is a huge anti-American sentiment amongst radical Shiite fundamentalists, all of which are major contributing factors to where we are as a globe today.
I agree, definitely plausible and a good reason to reconsider Dunkirk. However, once victorious, would Hitler have been able to live for very long with the restive Soviet bear on his eastern flank? I suspect that, in the scenario you describe, the Pact wouldn't have lasted. Imagine, two megalomaniacal despots, armed to the teeth and with all their enemies subdued. It wouldn't be long before they turned on each other.