Greco-Persian Wars

The Greco-Persian Wars were a series of armed conflicts between the Greek City-States and the Persian Empire. They began in 492 BC and ended in 449 BC. During this period, there were two invasions of Greece by Persia; the first one was organized by Darius I and commanded by General Mardonius, while the second one took place under Xerxes I. However, the huge Persian Army could not conquer Greece due to the superior Greek military tactics and training. The direct cause of Greco-Persian Wars was what is known as the Ionian revolt.

Ionian Revolt

When Darius I came to power in Persia in 522 BC, the Ionian Greek city-states in Asia Minor were under Persian control. However, they rose up unsuccessfully in what is known as the Ionian revolts (499 – 494 BC). These revolts were sparked off by the actions of Aristagoras, the ruler of the Ionian city of Miletus at the end of the 6th century BC and beginning of the 5th century BC. The Ionians had early success with the sack of Sardis, but the ensuing Persian counterattack by both the army and navy was too strong: the Ionians were decisively defeated at the Battle of Lade off the coast of Miletus in 494 BC. As Athens had helped the Ionians with ships and troops, specially during the sack of Sardis, Darius I swore vengeance upon them, invading Greece in 492 BC.

First Persian Invasion

Mardonius’ Campaign: In the spring of 492 BC, an expeditionary force commanded by Darius’ son-in-law Mardonius was assembled in Cilicia. The objective was to subdue as many as they could of the Hellenic cities. Mardonius sent his army to the Hellespont while he took the fleet up the Aegean coast to Ionia. There he removed the Greek authorities and established puppet governments in the Ionian cities.

Mardonius continued on to the Hellespont, and, when his army and fleet had been assembled, he crossed the Hellespont into Thrace and Macedon, subjugating all the people on his path. Thrace, which surrendered without defending themselves, was reorganized as a satrapy, while Macedonia was reduced to a client state.

The Persian fleet conquered Thassos and reached Acanthus (in the isthmus of the Athos peninsula), but as they attempted to sail around the peninsula, the fleet was destroyed in a storm off Mt. Athos. 300 ships and 20,000 men were lost. Mardonius thus ordered the remnants of his troops to return to the Asian side of the Aegean.

Destruction of Eretria: In 490 BC, the Persian generals, Datis and Artaphernes, gathered another Persian expeditionary force in Cilicia with the intention to go to Attica and Eretria to punish them for their assistance to the Ionians. The Darius’ navy moved north along the Ionian coast to Samos and then to Naxos, where the inhabitants fled to the mountains. The fleet spread across the Cyclades, which surrendered to the Persians, and then to Eretria. Eretria was besieged and surrendered after only six days; the city was razed, and temples and shrines were looted.

Battle of Marathon (490 BC)

On the advice of Hippias, a former Athenian tyrant turned traitor, the Persian army landed in Attica near Marathon with 30,000 troops. The Athenians, with their Plataean allies, had 10,000 men, who were led by Miltiades, who knew the Persian army and its tactics.

Pheidippides, a professional messenger, was sent by the Athenians to Sparta for aid but the Spartans were prevented from leaving the city, either because of a religious festival or because of a helot revolt mentioned by Plato. Thus the only ally the Athenians had in the Battle of Marathon were the Plataeans, with whom Athens had formed an alliance since the late sixth century BC.

Miltiades marched his army to Marathon to meet the invading force. After a period of about five days, Miltiades ordered his forces to attack at a run. The rapid advance prevented the Persian archers taking position and loosing their arrows from afar. Miltiades knew that in hand to hand combat the Greek hoplite was superior. In spite of the rapid advance, the centre of the Greek formation maintained formation. When the Persian centre counterattacked, the Greeks retreated in order. The Greek wings then closed in. They were able to defeat their opposites and join force behind the Persian centre, encircling it. A great slaughter followed. 6400 dead Persian bodies were counted on the battlefield and buried against only 192 Athenian and 420 Plataean dead.

The effects of the battle of Marathon were dramatic for both sides of the conflict. The Athenians had proven their ability to fight and win against the Persian forces, which was indeed no small feat if Herodotus’s words are to be accepted. The Greeks saw that they had the option to stand and fight, and soon after Marathon a number of city-states renounced their submission to Persia and joined with the Athenians and Spartans.

Perhaps more important was the impact Marathon had upon the Persians. Marathon was the first defeat of regular Persian infantry forces since before the reign of Cyrus, over two generations before. While the Ionian rebellion, the Persian inadequacy at sea, and the burning of Sardis all constituted a threat to Persian holdings in the region, Marathon signaled a threat to the whole of the Western part of the empire.

Second Persian Invasion

In 480 the Persians under Xerxes I again invaded Greece, seeking to avenge the defeat. This time all Greece fought together, with Sparta in charge of the army and Athens of the navy. At the Thermopylae pass, 300 Spartans under the command of king Leonidas withstood for several days with tenacity and superhuman resistance the assault of a 600,000-men army, blocking their way and gaining time. The Battle of Thermopylae gave the Athenians and the rest of the Spartans time to organize and engage the enemy.

Battle of Salamis (480 BC)

Athens was evacuated, and the Greek fleet withdrew to Salamis to aid in the transfer of the population of Attica to the island. The Peloponnesians proposed a defensive line at the Isthmus of Corinth, relying on the ground forces and using the fleet to keep the Isthmus supplied. Themistocles instead forced a confrontation with the Persian fleet at the Battle of Salamis and routed the Persian fleet, forcing it to withdraw to the Ionian coast. According to a story related by Herodotus, before the battle, Xerxes had set up a throne on Mt. Aegaleo, so he could watch his great victory over the smaller Greek fleet. However, once again the narrow gulf provided little room for his heavy triremes to maneuver, allowing the lighter Greek ships to flank and destroy them.

Battle of Platea (479 BC)

The battle which marked the defeat of Xerxes’ invasion of Greece, Plataea was fought about 5 miles (8 km) east of the ancient town, near the modern Erythrai. After defeating the Persian cavalry at the foot of Cithaeron, the Greeks under the Spartan regent Pausanias, and eventually over 38, 000 hoplites strong, moved down to a position along the Asopos. Here, however, they were increasingly harassed by Persian mounted archers. This led to the army dividing, the centre back near Plataea, the Spartans on the right, the Athenians on the left. The Persian commander, Mardonius, perhaps as he had intended, had got the enemy on the run, and should have been content with a moral victory which might have brought about the disintegration of the fragile Greek alliance. But whether because he lost control of overenthusiastic men or because he thought he saw a chance to annihilate the Spartans, who, being on higher ground, were all the enemy in view, he made the mistake of engaging them in hand-to-hand battle and was routed. Meanwhile, the Athenians managed to successfully fight off the Boeotians on the Persian side.

Aftermath: According to tradition, the Battle of Mycale occurred on the same day, with the Greek fleet destroying the Persian fleet in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Ionia. The Persian army, under the command of Artabazus tried to retreat all the way back to Asia Minor. Most of the 43,000 survivors were attacked and killed by the forces of Alexander I of Macedon at the estuary of the Strymon river. This ended the defensive phase of the Persian Wars, although the Persians continued to interfere in Greek politics until they were conquered in the 4th century BC by Alexander the Great. However, this was the last time the Persians tried to invade the Greek mainland with the goal of total conquest.

Why Did Hitler Attack the Soviet Union?

The reason why Adolf Hitler attacked Russia on June 22, 1941, was three-fold: 1) to secure a permanent source of oil supply, and 2) to eliminate the latent Soviet threat on Germany, which arose out of deep idelogical differences between the two nations; 3) Lebensraum (living space), a geopolitical decision to expand eastward to create more space for the growing German population. Having invaded Poland in 1939 and defeated the Low Countries and France the following year, the Third Reich needed more oil and raw materials to meet the increasing demands of German military machine and armament industry; demands the newly conquered Western European countries could not meet, and, by early 1941, Germany had already become dependant on huge imports from the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries. As a result, Hitler looked to the East. The ideological rift that existed between the two countries was clear to see; Germany was ruled by an extreme-right, nationalist government, known as the Third Reich, while Russia was brutally governed by an extreme-left, communist regime under Joseph Stalin, a psycopath and paranoid man.

Signed eight days before the Whermacht invasion of Poland, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty, known as the “Non-Aggression Pact”, included a secret clause that allowed each signing country to establish spheres of influence, through which both Stalin and Hitler could secure and exert political and economic influence on neighboring countries. Thus, as it had been previously agreed on in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, by late September 1939, the Soviet Union had completed the conquest of the eastern portion of Poland, to which Stalin would soon attach the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and a portion of Finnish territory as spheres of influence and later declared as parts of the Soviet Union. However, the real threat to Germany oil supplies arose when the Red Army invaded the Romanian territory of Bessarabia and Bukovina, building up a strong military force in the area, threatening to invade the country. Since Rumania accounted for 65% of German oil imports, Adolf Hitler became real worried about this new developing situation. As he stepped up his plans for a sudden attack on the Soviet Union, he also envisioned to seize the Russian oil fields of the Caucasus. The attack on the Stalin-ruled Russia was code-named Operation Barbarossa, ending up in the Battle of Moscow, from November 1941 to January 1942, while the German invasion of the Caucasus steppes was called Operation Fall Blau, which led up to Battle of Stalingrad.

Hitler attacks the Soviet Union (footage)

Turkey Is Planning Massive Invasion of Syria

Amidst the bloody civil war going on in its neighboring country, the Turkish government might be planning a massive military invasion of Syria to overthrow al-Assad regime and help the Muslim insurgency. It must be remembered that Turkey had already been accused of buying oil from ISIS in the black market. As a result, Russia is on the alert and is ready to support its Allied, Bashar al-Assad. The question: Is Turkey following direct instructions from Obama, whose Administration main goal is the ousting of the Syrian president? Watch the video below.

Why did Hitler lose World War II?

The main reason Adolf Hitler lost World War II was because the Wehrmacht initiated Operation Barbarossa too late, letting the severe Russian winter catch up, hindering the German forces from launching the final assault on Moscow. Not being able to finish off the Russians early, the German forces got bogged down on the Eastern Front, wasting precious resources and protracting the fighting. This gave the Allies time to land on North Africa and then on Normandy and to increase the bombing raids over Germany, which led to a multifrontal war, exhausting and crippling the German factories weapon output capacity and logistics. The real culprit of this delay and the unexpected awry development of war events was Benito Mussolini’s failure to invade and defeat Greece in time to secure the southern flank.

The Italian Army had begun the invasion of Greece on October 28, 1940, but it was repelled by a Greek counter-attack, forcing both forces to wage a long war of attrition. By late March 1941, the Italian troops were still in trouble, unable to advance an inch. Thus, Hitler decided to intervene to secure the southern flank of the German offensive against Russia because by this time British troops had already landed in the Balkans to shore up the Greek Army in their fight against Italy. Since Greece could be a springboard from which the Allied forces could launch a northward offensive against Germany, Hitler began the German invasion of Greece on April 6, 1941, to protect and shield Germany’s southern Front. The Wehrmacht’s 12th Army quickly crushed the Greek resistance, but delayed the initiation of the German attack on the Soviet Union, known as Operation Barbarossa, as it had originally been planned to be launched in early May. Due to Operation Marita, which was the code name for the German invasion of Greece, the German invasion of the Soviet Union was postponed until June 22, 1941. Had it been launched in May, the German forces would surely have captured Moscow on time before the arrival of the Russian winter and the Siberian Armor division, under Zhukov; the extremely low temperatures froze the armored vehicles fuel as the artillery pieces breeches got stuck with ice and could not be used.

Had Germany defeated the Soviet Union early in the war, it would have devoted and concentrated most of its military resources in Western Europe to avoid any Allied landing by reinforcing the German navy, and with it the German submarine campaign in the Atlantic.

Another reason for Germany not winning the war against the Soviet Union was that it lacked enough long-range, heavy bombers to attack and destroy the Soviet infrastructure and armament factories lacated in cities lying far beyond the enemy lines, such as Samara, Saratov, and Omsk. As the German forces advanced eastwards, many Soviet factories were simply dismantled and shipped to the eastern regions, where they were assembled again to start turning out large quantity of war materiel.

Why Did the USA Lose the Vietnam War?

The main reason why the United States lost the war in Vietnam was that the popular support for the US involvement in that armed conflict had been eroded, due to the media influence, especially after the Tet Offensive launched by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces on January 31, 1968. Although it seemed at the beginning that this wave of surprise attacks on more than 100 objectives in South Vietnam was a communist victory, the majority of the attacks of the Tet Offensive had been successfully repelled by the American and South Vietnamese troops, who would go on the counter-offensive right afterwards; many North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong units had been completed mauled as they left behind thousands of casualties; the enemy had received a hard blow. However, the way the American press narrated and portrayed these armed events wrongly convinced the American public that the United States were losing the war and that any further escalation of the conflict was futile, triggering a nation-wide wave of peace demonstrations.

As a consequence of the negative public opinion pressure and of the Democratic Primary election result in New Hampshire, President Lyndon B Johnson announced in a live speech on March 31, 1968, that he had decided to suspend the bombing of North Vietnam and try to reach a peaceful solution of the armed struggle at the negotiating table as General Westmoreland announced the cessation of counter-offensive operations, which was a big mistake from a military point of view. American Congress also cut back the war funds in respond to the anti-war demonstrations. The war had become so unpopular that year, that in that live speech of March 31, Lyndon B. Johnson also announced that he would not run for a second term in Office. Thus, in the November 5 presidential elections, the Republican candidate Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States. The new administration decided to implement a new policy in South Asia; the “vietnamization of the war”, which consisted in the gradual withdrawal of American ground troops of South Vietnam, to be replaced by South Vietnamese Army units after these have been thoroughly trained and equipped.

To sum up, there were three immediate causes or reasons why the USA lost the war: lack of public support, the sharp cutting back of the war budget, and de-escalation of the conflict by drawing off troops from the theater of operations. But there was a fourth cause; the Cold War context in which the war broke out. The United States went to South Asia to support the government of South Vietnam against the Vietcong attacks and North Vietnamese encroachment and infiltration and thus avoid a domino effect, another western-leaned Asian country falling in Communist hands. However, not only the domino effect fear was part of that historical context, but also a world-wide ideological and military escalation of a low intensity conflict against a guerrilla group; this meant a Chinese direct military envolvement as it had happened during the Korean War, but this time it had to be avoided at all cost, since a Chinese envolvement would mean a Third World War as they had already got their nuclear weapons. That was why, from the very beginning, the United States did not go to South East Asia to fight a total war to defeat North Vietnam, but a limited undeclared one against a scurrying and elusive enemy.

Austrian-Prussian War

The Austrian-Prussian War, also known as the Seven-Week War, was an armed conflict between Austria and Prussia that took place from June 15 to July 26, 1866, in central Europe. It began with a dispute over the German duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, which had been occupied by Prussia and Austria in 1864. Rivalry between these two German-speaking countries had erupted when they tried to exert hegemony in central Europe. The result of this short war was a Prussian victory, which led to the Franco-Prussian War and the unification of the German states and Prussia into the German Empire, under William I.

Since he was appointed Prime Minister of Prussia by William I, Otto von Bismarck began to contrive ways to achieve the unification of the German states under Prussian leadership. Having assured funds for the Prussian Army, Bismarck turned his attention to the long-standing rivalry with Austria. As early as 1856, he had written: “Germany is too small for both of us. Both of us plow the same contested field”. He approached the problem obliquely by engineering a war with Denmark in 1864 for the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Afraid to let Prussia expand on its own, Austria joined in the conquest and for a time both powers shared these provinces. However, it was compromise bound to cause dispute, which was exactly what Bismarck wanted. He won the Italians over to Prussia’s side by offering to restore Venetia to them, a region the Austrians had seized in 1797. He also gained the support of the German states by dangling the prospect of a national parliament. Then, on June 8, 1866, he ordered the Prussian troops in Schleswig to expel the Austrians from Holstein.

The Austrian-Prussian War, which Bismarck cleverly manipulated into being, was decided within weeks. After a series of smaller engagements, the Prussians crushed the Austrians at the Battle of Königgrätz on July 3, 1866. Nevertheless, Bismarck was magnanimous in victory, overruling the generals who wanted to march into Vienna. “The dispute with Austria is decided,” he declared. “Now we have to win back the old friendship.” By the terms of the peace, Prussia annexed Austria’s wartime allies of Hanover, Nassau, Hesse-Kassel, and Frankfurt am Main, eliminating the corridor between the eastern and western provinces of Prussia. These states joined Schleswig-Holstein in a new union called the North German Confederation. Thus, the balance of power in central Europe had shifted to Prussia.

Weapons

During the Austrian-Prussian War, the Prussian soldiers were equipped with the Dreyse needle rifle, a breech-loader which could be shot from a prone position, and which fired up to five times faster than muzzle-loaders. Although it was prone to misfire, the Dreyse gave the Prussians the edge on the battlefield and this, along with their powerful artillery and superior planning, enabled them to win a crushing victory over the Austrians at Battle of Königgrätz in 1866, which freed Bismarck, the German Chancellor, to pursue his goal of a united Germany.

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