Very often in history, a seemingly small, isolated incident has led to wars between nations, bringing death and destruction in its wake.

The cause of the epic Trojan War (made famous by the Brad Pitt movie ‘Troy’) was a lady. The beautiful Helen of Troy was abducted by Greek prince Paris, understandably infuriating her husband, Menelaus. He sought help from fellow Greek rulers and attacked Troy to seek revenge. So Helen, ‘the face that launched a thousand ships’, was the real reason behind the bloodshed that followed.

The underlying issue behind the American Civil War was slavery, but an attack by Confederate forces on Fort Sumter in April 1861, started the fighting in earnest. Only 85 men were stationed in the fort, but the attack led to fierce fighting lasting for four years between those who wanted a single, indivisible America and their opponents, who were in favour of independent states.

The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo sparked off World War I. Though the attacker was arrested, the bullets he fired sent tremors across Europe; all its nations becoming embroiled in the bloodshed that was to ensue, causing thousands of deaths.

In 1929, the Wall Street Crash left not only many Americans penniless, but also had a ripple effect all across the world. It was followed by 10 years of the Great Depression, a period in which dictators like Hitler were able to mobilize their nations to fight, leading to World War II.

The downing of the Russian bomber jet by Turkey last week had many doomsday predictors warning that the incident could set off a World War III. Hopefully this time, world leaders have learnt lessons from history and better sense will prevail.