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Most Decisive Battle of the 20th century?

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    Posted: 21 Jan 2011 at 01:58
What would you All Empires say is the most decisive battle in the 20th century? For me it'd be the Battle of Berlin but it equally could be any battle from WW1 or Vietnam.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2011 at 13:35
The Battle of Berlin had no effect on the course of the war whatsoever. That was already completely lost by Germany, which would have loved to surrender if it had been allowed to.
 
It may have had some influence in the decisions at Potsdam and the postwar carve-up of Eastern Europe, but that had more or less already been decided at Yalta.
 
No particular battle sticks out to me as the most decisive. Or, rather, many do with not much to choose between them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2011 at 14:18
Most decisive battle? Probably 1st Marne during WWI. Had the Germans won WWI would have ended 4 years early and in much the same manner as the Franco-Prussia war 44 years before.
 
Europe and the entire world world would be a very different place than the one now.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Joe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2011 at 14:21
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Most decisive battle? Probably 1st Marne during WWI. Had the Germans won WWI would have ended 4 years early and in much the same manner as the Franco-Prussia war 44 years before.
 
Europe and the entire world world would be a very different place than the one now.
 
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I was reading somewhere about a what if the Germans had won WW1. It was extremely interesting to think about the effects it might have had.
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

The Battle of Berlin had no effect on the course of the war whatsoever. That was already completely lost by Germany, which would have loved to surrender if it had been allowed to.
 
It may have had some influence in the decisions at Potsdam and the postwar carve-up of Eastern Europe, but that had more or less already been decided at Yalta.
 
No particular battle sticks out to me as the most decisive. Or, rather, many do with not much to choose between them.

Very true.


Edited by Joe - 21 Jan 2011 at 14:21
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2011 at 15:21
Yes, there is no one battle that we can point to a clear "before-after" in a larger historical context. Most of the major wars in the 20th century were a variation of wars of attrition: the one who didn't run out of resources won.

Now let me put forth another question. Was there any decisive battle where the battle outcome actually changed the course of a war? What I mean is, did the bigger country with greater resources lose as the result of a single battle?

Edited by hugoestr - 22 Jan 2011 at 19:29
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 11:20
Trafalgar comes to mind. It and the Armada campaign both worked to save Britain from invasion, but in the case of the Armada the result of the  whole war was very much a dull draw. The Battle of Britain is an example of a defensive victory that foiled a attempt at a quick win and ultimately led to a win for the richer side in the war of attrition that followed.
 
Borodino has something of the same calibre: though usually called a Napoleonic victory, it ultimately led to his defeat in the Russian campaign.
I think you make an interesting point - if you take Poitiers or Crecy or Bannockburn for instance, the batteles gave the underdogs some short term advantage, but ultimately the richer country won out.
 
Chesapeake Bay is possibly another, but the French involvement in that campaign stopped it being too one-sided.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 11:32
I believe Stalingrad was the key battle of the 20th century. Had the Nazis won that battle Russia probably had failed and they may had the power to get a deal with the allies.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 12:56
Well, in assessing such things one had best define what "decision" is being sought? For example, in the 19th century which the more decisive: Leipzig (1813) or Waterloo (1815)? One might even posit the claim that the most decisive military event in World War II was the dropping of nuclear devices on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. These two military actions did forever alter the character of military engagement and the purposes behind them to such a degree that they made confrontation such as El Alamein and Stalingrad entirely irrelevant and introduced entirely new "tactics" as the necessary alternative to "diplomacy by other means".
 
In many respects--for those that mention Stalingrad, with all due apologies to George VI--the decisive battle in the East came quite early and all else was aftermath: the Battle of Moscow in 1941. Here is an expository essay that asserts that to assert anything else is to accept the German p.o.v. on militarism and its consequences--
 
 
Now, I  am not arguing that the above citation may be considered authoritative, but I am saying that when points such as these are raised in the context of this Forum then response should be undertaken in like manner. If we are to respect the integrity of AE as a valid and contributing source--and a positive internet presence--then the exclamatory interjections preceeding this post (more like tweets rather than examples of critical thought) should be avoided wholeheartedly. Certainly one need not entertain and entire essay in blue book form but one should be incisive by furthering access to source materials already on the Internet and where absent then provide detailed explanation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 14:51

If you take up Hugo's redefinition of the question, as I was doing, then Moscow would not qualify (either in 1941 or 1812) because the defeat of the Germans or French did no lead to the weaker side - i.e. the one with fewer resources - being ultimately beaten.

I agree about the decisiveness of Hiroshima/Nagasaki. However again it led to the victory of the side with the greater resources, not the fewer.
 
I don't agree that in a forum such as this one, citing references should be necessary for anything as well known as the Moscow campaigns, unless someone is proposing a somewhat unusual view of some aspect of it. The Germans attacked Moscow: they failed to take it: they lost the war: they were the weaker party in the war. I can't see how any reference would be needed for those propositions, or that anyone here would be unaware of the fact.
 


Edited by gcle2003 - 22 Jan 2011 at 14:53
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 15:33
Yes, Gcle but being suspicious at heart I suspect an underlying motive with respect to hugo's posit of "greater resources and defeat" scenario within the context of the 20th century. It would be simple to raise the hoary past as with the Macedonians and the Persians and the one-two punches of Granicus and Issus, but for the 20th century would there be the equivalent of a Sedan with respect to a "collective"? In that instance we would be entering the polemical as with Vietnam and Afghanistan [episodes 1(1981) and 2(2001)]. I do have trouble with the "resources" scenario since such is a rather fluid bit of greasing since utilization rather than absolute numbers would be the decisive variant. On paper way back in 1848 the then pundits of Europe viewed the outcome of the "Mexican" War as a foregone conclusion: the Mexicans had the larger army and the greater resources for the conduct of war, yet they lost and interestingly enough it never occurred to the Mexican leadership of that day to conduct a "war of attrition" through guerrilla warfare even though they had "experience" with such in the immediate past. Of course, did not the German Military as an institution already "teach" the American Civil War as an example for the application of tactics and resources at the advent of the 20th century? Therein the connundrum...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Joe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 15:54
I choose the battle of Berlin out of the politically decisiveness of the victory but yeah your right it was all decided at Yalta. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 16:08
Why aren't people discussing 1st Marne?
 
Had the Germans won WWI would have ended before the Ottoman empire ventured into the war and before the Bolshevik revolution started and eventually lead to WWII. Fascism would have been like anarchism, a fringe political movement with no mainstream support.
 
WWII and the cold war was a direct result of WWI, if there was no WWI the 20th century as we know it would have not happened.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 19:33
But the Bolshevik revolution was an accident of the times. Without Lenin in Russia at the time, the Russian socialist party would have debated themselves to death before any action was taken. Some other group would have seized power.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 22:05
@drgonzaga
 
I agree about the difficulty, which is why I'm having trouble thinking up answers to the question.
 
We need a war which was won by the weaker party (let's say in the eyes of the time) as the result of a single victory by that weaker party. You're right that that would technically make the US the weaker party (ab initio) so we need a single decisive victory by the Americans over the Mexicans. I don't know enough about the war, frankly, to comment on that offhand.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 22:12
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Why aren't people discussing 1st Marne?
Because the Germans lost the war, and probably would have done anyway, so 1st Marne wasn't decisive.
 
If Germany had won the first battle of the Marne, then the outcome might have been different, just as if Germany had won the Battle of Britain in 1940. But in both wars Germany could only win through a quick victory and it didn't get one.
 
What was decisive was it's weaker financial strength, which inter alia meant it was limited to arms it cold produce itself.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2011 at 22:34
I don't know if the Mexican-American war is a good example. Mexico had been in a constant state of war, it had two states secede from it, the Mexican factions committed coups to the last minute during the invasion, and most Mexicans lacked a national identity, identifying themselves as people from their local region.

Also, the Mexican Army relied on forced conscription, i.e. kidnapping of men to build the army. These people didn't want to fight, and would leave at the quickest moment.

The U.S. had a professional army, it had been growing and was pursuing a war of expansion.

So the U.S. was the stronger party in that war, I would say.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2011 at 00:43
Hugo, the United States Army in 1845 numbered but 8,000 men! And when General Taylor camped on the "other side" of the Nueces his disposable force was about half-that number most at Corpus Christi and not what you would have called a "professional" army. The book to read here is The Story of the Mexican War by Robert Selph Henry. Further your idea that "these people did not want to fight" is, frankly, a misrepresentation. In 1846 General Mariano Arista engaged in several hard-fought battles and his troops did not "leave at the quickest moment". Here are some salient facts:
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2011 at 01:08
Americans won that war because the tecnological difference that was already there. The U.S. was already a developed country in comparison to Mexico. Just compare the Mexican conflict with the Civil War or with the Spanish-American war. For the enemies of Uncle Sam, there wasn't a chance to win.

Edited by pinguin - 23 Jan 2011 at 01:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2011 at 03:13
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Americans won that war because the tecnological difference that was already there. The U.S. was already a developed country in comparison to Mexico. Just compare the Mexican conflict with the Civil War or with the Spanish-American war. For the enemies of Uncle Sam, there wasn't a chance to win.
 
 
Rubbish! The personal papers of the participants leave no doubt as to the wealth of Mexico and there wasn't a single city in the then United States that matched Puebla much less Mexico City. The truth here is not a pretty one but it has nothing to do with economic development and instead revolves around the internecine viciousness of Mexico's domestic politics and the nature of its "independence".
 
But hey, we can always see the fun of it all...
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2011 at 03:18
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

 
Rubbish! The personal papers of the participants leave no doubt as to the wealth of Mexico and there wasn't a single city in the then United States that matched Puebla much less Mexico City.


Rubish would be your oppinion! Ouch

Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:


The truth here is not a pretty one but it has nothing to do with economic development and instead revolves around the internecine viciousness of Mexico's domestic politics and the nature of its "independence".
 


You never speak the truth, medical disciple of Goering.

I will tell you the truth: the U.S. was far ahead in technology than Mexico! And, of course, Mexico had some internal problems already. But the U.S. also had its own problems that later erupted in its Civil War! Nope, the main difference is that the Yankee U.S. was an industrial power already, while Mexico was a country of poor uneducated peasants and a rich but tiny elite. The U.S. was in its own Industrial Revolution while Mexico was still in the Middle Ages!




Edited by pinguin - 23 Jan 2011 at 03:20
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2011 at 08:01
Originally posted by hugoestr hugoestr wrote:

But the Bolshevik revolution was an accident of the times. Without Lenin in Russia at the time, the Russian socialist party would have debated themselves to death before any action was taken. Some other group would have seized power.
Good point.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2011 at 11:35
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Rubish would be your oppinion! Ouch

You never speak the truth, medical disciple of Goering.

I will tell you the truth: the U.S. was far ahead in technology than Mexico! And, of course, Mexico had some internal problems already. But the U.S. also had its own problems that later erupted in its Civil War! Nope, the main difference is that the Yankee U.S. was an industrial power already, while Mexico was a country of poor uneducated peasants and a rich but tiny elite. The U.S. was in its own Industrial Revolution while Mexico was still in the Middle Ages!
 
Since once again you threaten to disrupt a thread with your gratuitous squawking and the dropping of debased coinage, as if such were pesos fuerte, I will remind you the topic deals with the 20th century and its battles and the "Mexican War" was simply introduced as a historical possibility with regard to a consideration an ancillary issue. As a voracious avian you might know much about Chilean bass but you do not know squat about industrialization much less detailed economic data on the United States and even less that of Mexico in the early 19th century. Mexican "eagle dollars" were the standard specie in trade during this time (so much so that it would become the "principal money" in the China Trade by 1856) and Mexican haciendas were far more efficient as production units than anything comparable in the United States with the exception of their counterparts in the lower Mississippi Valley. So spare us your excess detritus masquerading as commentary in search of content. Panther long ago underscored the absence of sources and links in your meanderings through the forum, so unless you can "put up" kindly just "shut up".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2011 at 12:30
The Bolshevik Revolution an historical accident? That's quite a new twist on Vlad's rush to the Finland Station. True the implosion of the Russian military subsequent to the St. Petersburg riot of February 1917 (OS) took all by surprise since it inverted the standard formula of he who controls the military controls the state but one also has to accept the fact that for the next five years the Russians took to fighting each other and the Germans were but a nuisance at the door-steps, which according to Lenin's own summation would be handled in due course by "capitalist" interests. Surprisingly, through this entire discussion no one has mentioned a given in European diplomacy ever since the conclusion of the Congress of Vienna in June of 1815: no continental power would be permitted dominance against the interests of the others. We can not underestimate the "balance of power" mystique among certain circles since it even haunts today after the implosion of the old USSR in 1991. Hence, if we are going to look for a "decisive" battle in the context of the 20th century such did not take place within the context of the traditional battlefield that dominated European horizons since time immemorial but rather in the political arena of the urban landscape where control over the army becomes an irrelevance. It is not by chance that the Chinese political hierarchy reacted quickly and thoroughly at Tiananmen Square in 1989. In contrast, two years later Boris Yeltsin could "defy" the tanks approaching the Russian Duma with impunity and render the aparatchniks of the Communist Party helpless. Now what am I saying by bringing this point to the fore? Well, I am surmising that the most significant transformation in the 20th century with regard to the military and the battlefield can be captured by the newspeak of the Truman Administration when it renamed the U.S. War Department, the Department of Defense. Is everyone catching the drift?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2011 at 13:18
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

 
Since once again you threaten to disrupt a thread with your gratuitous squawking and the dropping of debased coinage, as if such were pesos fuerte, I will remind you the topic deals with the 20th century and its battles and the "Mexican War" was simply introduced as a historical possibility with regard to a consideration an ancillary issue.


Then, open a thread on that topic. Even more, I'll do. Get focused, doctor.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2011 at 13:35
I am focused you flustered feather duster and I've got you in my crosshairs.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2011 at 13:47
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

I am focused you flustered feather duster and I've got you in my crosshairs.


As usual, you ask to be ridiculized.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2011 at 13:52

Just can't bring yourself to shut up can you, even if it means abusing English as badly as you abuse historical analysis.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jan 2011 at 00:12
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Hugo, the United States Army in 1845 numbered but 8,000 men! And when General Taylor camped on the "other side" of the Nueces his disposable force was about half-that number most at Corpus Christi and not what you would have called a "professional" army. The book to read here is The Story of the Mexican War by Robert Selph Henry. Further your idea that "these people did not want to fight" is, frankly, a misrepresentation. In 1846 General Mariano Arista engaged in several hard-fought battles and his troops did not "leave at the quickest moment". Here are some salient facts:
 



This is so strange, but here I go. The United States Army was a real army. The Mexican Army was a collection of officers and men forced to serve. People would fight to defend their local area, but would desert or didn't care for the rest.

Where there some bad engagements? Yes, but overall, Mexico's politics and provincialism got in the way to put any real defense.

The only well tested Mexican general was Santa Anna. I mean, this was the best Mexico had .
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jan 2011 at 00:28
Are you not essentially saying there was no sense of "Mexico" at all in terms of nationalism? Well, seeing that you mention the wiliest survivor of them all Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, you may have a point. Here's a brazen look at what has to be considered one of the major poppinjays in History:
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jan 2011 at 00:31
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Are you not essentially saying there was no sense of "Mexico" at all in terms of nationalism? Well, seeing that you mention the wiliest survivor of them all Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, you may have a point. Here's a brazen look at what has to be considered one of the major poppinjays in History:


With respect to Santa Ana, in this video you can see him carried to jail by the migra. Watch it.

 
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