Sometimes, a small, seemingly meaningless decision can change everything.
Some of the biggest moments in the last century hinged on minor decisions. Little things—like a barber leaving out a copy of Reader’s Digest, or a driver taking a wrong turn—sparked a chain of events that changed world leaders and started world wars.
10. Elian Gonzalez Caused the Iraq War
When Sadaam Hussein stood at the gallows of Camp Justice, waiting to be hanged, he could not possibly have realized that the events that had brought him there all started because one little Cuban boy got on a boat headed to America—but they did. Because, in a weird, indirect way, Elian Gonzalez caused the Iraq War.
No, Elian Gonzalez is not the one who told George Bush that Iraq had weapons of mass of destruction—but he is the person who got him elected. Bush became President after one of the closest elections in history. He won Florida by only 537 votes—and Florida won him the election.
Bush only got those votes, though, because of Elian Gonzalez. The Cuban-American community in Florida was so mad about how the Democrats handled the high-profile international custody battle that an extra 50,000 Cuban-Americans in Florida voted Republican.
Which means that if Elian Gonzalez had not gotten on that boat to America, Al Gore would have become President. The Iraq War—for better or worse—almost certainly would not have happened, and the whole world would be a different place today.
9. Jeri Ryan Made Barack Obama President
Sadaam Hussein might not have realized Elian Gonzalez got him killed, but when Barack Obama first sat down in the Oval Office as the first black President, he probably had a pretty good inkling he was only there because of Jeri Ryan—the woman who played seven of nine on Star Trek Voyager.
Barack Obama’s path to the Presidency started when he was a Senator, and he had to win that seat first. The man Obama ran against was Jeri Ryan’s husband, Jack Ryan. It is hard to say whether he could have beaten him or not on his own—but because Jack Ryan tried to get a little pervy with his wife, he did not have to.
During the election, the Ryans’ divorce papers got out to the press, revealing that Jack Ryan had tried to take his wife to some less-than-wholesome clubs. “It was a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling,” Jeri Ryan described in the divorce. Jack, she said, “wanted me to have sex with him there, with another couple watching. I refused.”
In the ensuing scandal, Jack Ryan dropped out of the election, and with him out of the way, Obama won handily. With his spot as Senator, he started moving toward becoming the first black President—all because someone tried to take seven of nine to a sex club.