Forces of Nature (1)

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May 03 2008 10 mins   2

Whether they are seen as acts of God, or as simple climate-related occurrences, natural events have always had a sizeable impact on military operations. At the small end of the scale are the little changes in terrain or weather that may affect a battle or a small war. For example, many armies have postponed their campaigns due to inclement weather conditions, and many militaries have suffered from rampant disease. On the other end of the scale are the times when nature has so much of an impact that the fate of an entire nation or civilization is decided upon it. In the words of Charles Darwin, these are times when “the war of nature? results in the downfall of one party and the rise of another.

  • Thales' Eclipse: Halted the epic Battle of Halys River, thereby saving one or both of the participants (Lydia and Media) from destruction.
  • Kamikaze (Divine Wind): Created a storm that destroying the invading Mongol fleets, thereby saving Japan from foreign conquest.
  • Athenian Typhoid: Wreaked havoc throughout Athens, contributing to its downfall in the Peloponnesian War.
  • Bering Land Bridge: Facilitated the "invasion" of North America.
  • Clouds over Kokura: Obscured the primary target for the "Fat Man" atomic bomb, thereby saving Kokura but resulting in the destruction of Nagasaki.
  • Legend of Quetzacoatl: Convinced the Aztecs that Cortez was the reincarnation of Quetzacoatl, thereby facilitating the Spanish conquest of Latin America.
For more information, read:
Darwin's Origin of Species
Herodotus' Histories
Mitchell's Eclipses of the Sun
Lamont-Brown's Kamikaze
Daniels' Almanac of World History

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