Nothing motivates people like war. That's how the Great Wall of China got built--they were protecting themselves against enemies who lived to the north.

But that wall is hardly the only time we've changed the face of the planet in the name of winning a war. Some of the ass kickings unleashed with ancient empires on the line were so mind-boggling, the Earth still hasn't recovered.

The Punic Wars were a series of conflicts fought between the forces of ancient Carthage and Romebetween 264 BCE and 146 BCE. The name Puniccomes from the word Phoenician (Phoinix in the Greek, Poenus from Punicus in Latin) as applied to the citizens of Carthage, who were of Phoenician ethnicity. As the history of the conflict was written by Roman authors, they labeled it 'The Punic Wars'. Carthage grew from a small port-of-call to the richest and most powerful city in the Mediterranean region before 260 BCE. She had a powerful navy, a mercenary army and, through tribute, tariffs, and trade, enough wealth to do as she pleased. Through a treaty with the small city of Rome, she barred Roman trade in the Western Mediterranean and, as Rome had no navy, was able to easily enforce the treaty. Roman traders caught in Carthaginian waters were drowned and their ships taken.

The warrior Achilles is one of the great heroes of Greek mythology. According to legend, Achilles was extraordinarily strong, courageous and loyal, but he had one vulnerability–his “Achilles heel.” Homer’s epic poem The Iliad tells the story of his adventures during the last year of the Trojan War.

Over the course of six years, from 1 September 1939 to 2 September 1945, upwards of 80 million men and women were killed as total war erupted between the Axis and Allied Powers, obliterating much of Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and bankrupting many of the most powerful regimes on Earth.

Characterised by countless massacres, the Holocaust, civilian bombing, famine and nuclear weapons, the war helped shape international legislation that would dictate the future of global politics. It led to the formation of the United Nations but also plunged the US and USSR into a decades-long Cold War.

Americans have fought in many wars, within their own country as well as abroad. These wars were fought for a variety reasons, ranging from the need to be independent from colonists to the expansion of national boundaries.

Here’s a list of American wars that took place since the United States became an independent nation.

 
 

World War I, known as the "war to end all wars," occurred between July 1914 and November 11, 1918. By the end of the war, over 17 million people had been killed, including over 100,000 American troops. While the causes of the war are infinitely more complicated than a simple timeline of events, and are still debated and discussed to this day, the list below provides an overview of the most frequently-cited events that led to war. 

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