8. Woodrow Wilson Ignored a Letter and Caused the Vietnam War
In 1919, Woodrow Wilson was in Versailles attending the Paris Peace Conference when he got a letter from a young socialist asking to meet him. Wilson had a busy schedule; he ignored him—and set in motion a chain of events that led to the Vietnam War.
The young man was Ho Chi Minh, and at the time, he was still quite open to different ideas. All he wanted was independence for Vietnam. He had been inspired by the American Declaration of Independence, and hoped the American President would sympathize with Vietnam’s plight, and help them win independence from France.
Wilson, though, ignored him, and Ho Chi Minh started to get disillusioned with America. He went to the Soviet Union instead, where he studied Marxism, met with Trotsky and Stalin, and became a dyed-in-the-wool communist.
When Vietnam won independence from France, Ho Chi Minh led the Communist group that split Vietnam in half. The Vietnam War began—but it might never have happened if Woodrow Wilson had just given a young man the time of day.
7. A Bar Fight Caused Brexit
When Great Britain voted to break free from the European Union, they left everyone scratching their heads as to how in the world it ever could have happened. The answer, though, was not too far away—it was in a little drinking hole in the Palace of Westminster called Stranger’s Bar.
That was where, in 2012, Labour MP Eric Joyce got drunk, shouted out that there were “too many Tories” in the bar, and started throwing punches at anyone his fists could reach. He ended up getting arrested, yelling “You can’t touch me! I’m an MP!” at the police, and the Labour Party realized they needed to replace him.
Joyce’s drunken punches sparked a chain of events that would end with the country leaving the EU. First, the Labour Party was accused of letting a generous donor decide who got Joyce’s seat. Then, to fight that reputation, Labour leader Ed Miliband started letting anyone willing to pay £3 join the party and vote. Thousands of people did just that—and they voted in a new leader: Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn would not have had those votes without the £3 rule change, and a lot of people blame him for Brexit. His party definitely blames him—they passed a no-confidence motion against him after Britain voted to leave.
By then, though, it was too late. Great Britain will separate from the EU, all because a drunk guy swung a punch in a bar.