World War III
World War III (WWIII or Third World War) denotes a successor to World War II (1939–1945) that would be on a global scale, with common speculation that it would be likely nuclear and devastating in nature. The term has also sometimes been used, perhaps most notably by Buckminster Fuller, to refer to the Cold War which existed between the communist and capitalist economies of various nations, especially the Soviet Union and the United States.
- In their loss of purpose, in their abandonment even of the themes they most sincerely espoused, Britain, France, and most of all, because of their immense power and impartiality, the United States, allowed conditions to be gradually built up which led to the very climax they dreaded most. They have only to repeat the same well-meaning, short-sighted behaviour towards the new problems which in singular resemblance confront us today to bring about a third convulsion from which none may live to tell the tale.
- I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
- Albert Einstein, in an interview with Alfred Werner, Liberal Judaism 16 (April-May 1949), Einstein Archive 30-1104, as sourced in The New Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice (2005), p. 173
- Differing versions of such a statement are attributed to conversations as early as 1948 (e.g. The Rotarian, 72 (6), June 1948, p. 9: "I don't know. But I can tell you what they'll use in the fourth. They'll use rocks!"). Another variant ("I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones") is attributed to an unidentified letter to Harry S. Truman in "The culture of Einstein" by Alex Johnson, MSNBC, (18 April 2005). However, prior to 1948 very similar quotes were attributed in various articles to an unnamed army lieutenant, as discussed at Quote Investigator : "The Futuristic Weapons of WW3 Are Unknown, But WW4 Will Be Fought With Stones and Spears". The earliest found was from “Quote and Unquote: Raising ‘Alarmist’ Cry Brings a Winchell Reply” by Walter Winchell, in the Wisconsin State Journal (23 September 1946), p. 6, Col. 3. In this article Winchell wrote:
Joe Laitin reports that reporters at Bikini were questioning an army lieutenant about what weapons would be used in the next war.
“I dunno,” he said, “but in the war after the next war, sure as Hell, they’ll be using spears!”
- It seems plausible, therefore, that Einstein may have been quoting or paraphrasing an expression which he had heard or read elsewhere.
- Models grew to astonishing levels of complexity, fuelled by the desire to create an accurate simulation of conﬂict, a scientiﬁc understanding of a quite literal war machine. The father of systems analysis, RAND researcher Ed Paxson, was symptomatic of this with the minutiae of his obsession in planning for World War III:
His dream was to quantify every single factor of a strategic bombing campaign – the cost, weight, and payload of each bomber, its distance from the target, how it shouldﬂy in formation with other bombers and their ﬁghting escorts, their exact routing patterns, the refueling procedures, the rate of attrition, the probability that something might go wrong in each step along the way, the weight and inaccuracy of the bomb, the vulnerability of the target, the bomb’s ‘kill probability,’ the routing of the planes back to their bases, the fuel consumed, and all extraneous phenomena such as the weather – and put them all into a single mathematic equation.
- Fred Kaplan, The Wizards of Armageddon, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984, p. 87; as qtd. in Antoine Bosquet, “Cyberneticizing the American War Machine: Science and Computers in the Cold War”, p. 91
- We cannot have another world war. War is the wrong word. We should ban the term ‘World War III’ and say instead apocalypse or holocaust.
- Golo Mann, in Hamburg’s Die Zeit (30 August 1985); also in The Watchtower (15 February 1986)
- The Joker: Do you know how many times we've come close to world war three over a flock of geese on a computer screen?
- We shall decide some time in 1943 or 1944 whether to plant the seeds of World War III. That war will be certain if we allow Prussia to rearm either materially or psychologically. That war will be probable in case we double-cross Russia. . . . Unless the Western democracies and Russia come to a satisfactory understanding before the war ends, I very much fear that World War III will be inevitable.
- Henry Wallace, Time, "Foreign News: World War III?", (Mar. 22, 1943), as qtd. in Becky Little, "We've Been Talking About World War III Since Before Pearl Harbor", History.com, (Dec 7, 2018).