Top 10 Most Harmful Decisions from U.S. Presidents

This list denotes the most harmful decisions. Not the worst decisions politically or in terms of career, so sex scandals and such are sort of off the table.
The Top Ten
1 Declaring a second war on Iraq (George W. Bush)

The events of 9/11 did not justify declaring war on Iraq, which resulted in the deaths and injuries of many innocent civilians. It is impossible for civilians to be unaffected by war.

A war waged against WMDs that never existed. Not only did it cost $2 trillion and many lives, but it also destabilized the entire Middle East, plunging the region into chaos.

2 Vietnam War (Lyndon Johnson)

America had no reason to get directly involved in the Vietnam War. They could have just sent supplies to South Vietnam, but no, they had to get involved, leading to thousands of deaths there. Many people also died back in America, like at Kent State in 1970, where four people were killed by the National Guard after protesting the invasion of Cambodia.

The Vietnam War was unnecessary, as the domino theory proved false. The draft was reinstituted, leading to significant loss of life and financial costs. It also damaged public trust in the government for generations.

3 Allowing the South to secede (James Buchanan)

The Civil War was prone to happen anyway, but on top of placating Southern slaveowners throughout his entire term, Buchanan's decision to do absolutely nothing as Southern states left the Union was appalling. The war may have been unavoidable, but he could have at least tried to do something.

4 Japanese American Interment (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

The rounding up of thousands of Japanese Americans, removing them from their families, jobs, and businesses, and putting them into camps was both racist and oppressive.

5 Fighting a second war with Britain (James Madison)

This war was fought for American pride and to seize Canadian land from Native Americans. The White House was attacked, and the very existence of the United States was in danger.

6 Abolishment of the Nuclear Arms Treaty (Donald Trump)
7 The Phillipines-American War (Theodore Roosevelt & William McKinley)

Although rarely mentioned in history books, this early 1900s genocide was an instance of the United States using brutal tactics to colonize the Philippines.

8 The War on Drugs (Richard Nixon)

Nixon's own advisors later admitted it was a tool to suppress hippies and Black people, but nonetheless, the Controlled Substances Act resulted in the incarceration of millions for small marijuana possession and punished severe addicts instead of helping them.

9 Building a wall (Donald Trump)
10 The Embargo Act (Thomas Jefferson)

To maintain neutrality in foreign affairs, Jefferson banned American trade with Britain and France. This led to a short-term depression that hurt many poor and working-class people.

The Contenders
11 Bay of Pigs Invasion (John F. Kennedy & Dwight Eisenhower)

The decision to stage a failed coup in Cuba, on the false assumption that most of its citizens would support it, resulted in the Cuban Missile Crisis, with nuclear missiles positioned to destroy the entire country. Thankfully, Kennedy handled it successfully.

This almost caused a nuclear war.

12 Withdraw from the Paris agreement (Donald Trump)
13 Hawley-Smoot Tariff (Herbert Hoover)

Despite explicit warnings from many economists, Hoover's belief in protectionism led him to sign this tariff. It resulted in a trade war that worsened the Great Depression.

14 Alien and Sedition Acts (John Adams)

These acts suppressed freedom of speech, violating the First Amendment, and made it much harder for immigrants to find employment. The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions were passed in response, and these resolutions were also one of the causes of the Civil War.

15 Indian Removal Act (Andrew Jackson)
16 The Federal Reserve Act (Woodrow Wilson)
17 New Deal (Franklin Roosevelt)

This prolonged the Great Depression by at least seven years.

18 Afghanistan withdrawal (Joe Biden)
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