1). Napoleon's conquest of Russia. This is the decision of French self-proclaimed emperor Napoléon Bonaparte I to invade Russia. In this decision France suffered massive casualties of 400,000-500,000 military and as many as 175,000 horses. I would rank this decision extremely stupid because about halfway through the march, when his soldiers were dying left and right, Napoléon had a chance to turn back. In fact his generals begged him to give up. If only he would have listened, it could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. This is extremely stupid according to me.
2). Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union. If you replace Napoleon with Hitler and Russia with Soviet Union, you will get the gist of this blunder. In September 1941 Adolf Hitler make a decision that would possibly change the course of the war, World War II. Hitler thought that he could do better than Napoleon, who was possibly the greatest single conqueror in history, except for Alexander the Great. Hitler marched troops into the Soviet Union and although the Soviet army was at first overwhelmed, when winter came the Nazi invasion force. Who were advancing quickly, outran their own supply lines and eventually a Soviet counter-attack made Nazi regiments retreat from Moscow in chaos. I think that this is the second most stupid of these decisions because it was made by a man who not only tried to wage winter warfare in Russia, but also completely and utterly failed to learn from history, and paid the price for his actions.
3). The Attack on Pearl Harbor. On the morning of December 7, 1941, a Japanese fleet consisting on six aircraft carriers full of bombers and escort ships launched an attack at 7:48 Hawaiian time. Although this may be considered a victory as only 64 Japanese servicemen lost their lives compared to over 2,000 in American casualties the Japanese actually made a terrible mistake. After the “successful” attack on the Americans a Japanese general named Isoroku Yamamoto made the famous quote “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve”. This attack caused the United States to enter World War II and eventually, develop the necessary technology to vanquish the Japanese empire. I think this is extremely stupid because the Japanese knew America’s military power and should have foreseen, as general Yamamoto did, that the Americans would join the war and eventually be the boost that defeated the Axis alliance.
The most stupid decision according to me is the decision of the Japanese to Attack Pearl Harbor. At the time they knew of America’s military might and could have probably allowed the axis to win the war if they had not attacked America. They also knew that America would stay out of the war unless it was provoked and could have easily avoided the whole ordeal and most likely won the war. At that time, even the Japanese emperor was having doubts but the power-hungry generals decided to attack the Americans and in turn, lose World War II.
The most significant criteria that I used to evaluate and rank these particular stupid decisions were:
Casualties. I believe it is very important to consider the casualties involved with the decision because casualties are most often the deciding factor of a war and, the more men you lose, the less military power you have.
Long-term outcome. Perhaps even more important then the casualties at the moment is the long term effect; As described in my evaluation of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the decision, although it could be considered a victory due to almost no Japanese casualties, was actually a loss: the long-term outcome was the United States joining the war and probably, the Axis could have won without U.S. intervention. If not for the long-term outcome, this would not be considered a stupid decision.