World War III
hypothetical future global conflict
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.
- There are necessarily many lesser problems but these cover the major ones with which humanity is at this time confronted, and which must find some solution during the next twenty-five years. If no progress is made and these problems remain unsolved, at least in some measure, and if humanity slips back into the status existing prior to the war, then nothing can stop the next war. If it comes, it will bring the final death blow to the human race. Mankind as we know it, could not survive, nor would it be right and good that it should. The death of a race might then be decreed and the long process of nurturing a race of men who would finally express divinity would have to be started all over again. These are not idle words, but the formulation of a possibility which can be clearly visioned, but which need never materialize if humanity learns the lessonof this war, recognizes its mistakes, and sets in deliberately to take those steps which will make such a happening as the past war (1914-1945) an impossibility. This will have to be done by the simple method (simple to write but difficult to implement) of establishing right human relations between men and between nations.
- A Bailey, PROBLEMS OF HUMANITY. The Alternative Is Another War
- We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine. Direct confrontation between NATO and Russia is World War III, something we must strive to prevent. But we already know Putin's war against Ukraine will never be a victory. He hoped to dominate Ukraine without a fight. He failed. He hoped to fracture European resolve. He failed. He hoped to weaken the transatlantic alliance. He failed. He hoped to split apart American democracies, in terms of our positions. He failed.
- 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.
- Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm, 1948, p. 38.
- The only way to win the next world war is to prevent it.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, (17 October 1956) speaking in Seattle,
- 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
- I am proud of my leadership in the foreign policy of the United States. I intend to go on trying to do what is right for America and what is right for all mankind. We are at peace. No Americans are dying on any battlefield tonight. There are no international wars, though there are many areas of tension and serious danger. We have suffered a few setbacks, tragic ones, and some disappointments in the course we have taken since World War II, but we have not had World War III. We have built a solid alliance of free peoples across the North Atlantic We have made friends and partners of former foes in Europe as well as in Asia. We are expanding trade and cooperation with the nations washed by the Pacific. We have strengthened our traditional ties with France, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. Over the past 30 years since we came home from the Pacific and other theaters of war to make a better world, we have not blown up civilization, and we have preserved our freedom.
- Recently I said and now I repeat, we are going through World War III but in instalments. There are economic systems that must make war in order to survive. Accordingly, arms are manufactured and sold and, with that, the balance sheets of economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money are clearly rendered healthy. And no thought is given to hungry children in refugee camps; no thought is given to the forcibly displaced; no thought is given to destroyed homes; no thought is given, finally, to so many destroyed lives. How much suffering, how much destruction, how much grief. Today, dear brothers and sisters, in all parts of the earth, in all nations, in every heart and in grassroots movements, the cry wells up for peace: War no more!
- Pope Francis, address to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, 28 October 2014
- Can you tell me one good reason why the United States should have been producing twice as many scientists and engineers 10 years ago as the Soviet Union and producing half as many today? Those of you who are Legionnaires, maintain your membership in the Legion because in time of war you responded to the service of our country; you will recall that in the novel On the Beach, the lone American survivors of World War III are standing on the beach in Australia, awaiting the inevitable end from a cloud of radioactivity. The senior officer in the group turns to the others and says, "You know, I could run for President." That is not the Presidency for which I run. I don't want to be the President of a nation perishing under the mushroom cloud of a nuclear warhead, and I intend, if President, or if I continue in the Senate, to build the defenses which this country needs, and which freedom needs.
- 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.
- Imagine the surprise to China’s leaders that in order to achieve global domination, instead of starting World War III, they simply had to cut some checks.
- Douglas McKinnon, "China is already winning World War III, via money," The Hill, (29 May 2021)
- 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?
- Alan Moore, Batman: The Killing Joke, DC Comics, (March 1988)
- Potentially in reference to an incident in 1956, when a wedge of flying swans over Turkey was temporarily wrongly identified by NORAD as an enemy aircraft.
- Alan Moore, Batman: The Killing Joke, DC Comics, (March 1988)
- The Soviet Union, unlike previous aspirants to hegemony, is animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own, and seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world… With the development of increasingly terrifying weapons of mass destruction, every individual faces the ever-present possibility of annihilation should the conflict enter the phase of total war
- In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another world war. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations -- an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this prize -- America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons. In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.
- Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, (10 December 2009)
- The understanding that a third world war could be the end of civilization should restrain us from taking extreme steps on the international arena that are highly dangerous for modern civilization
- A principal concern of the people of the United States is the creation of conditions of enduring peace throughout the world. In company with other peace-loving nations, the United States is striving to insure that there will never be a World War III. In the words of the Charter of the United Nations, we are "determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." We seek lasting peace in a world where freedom and justice are secure and where there is equal opportunity for the economic well-being of all peoples.
- Harry S. Truman, Special Message to the Congress on the Marshall Plan; December 19, 1947
- Now, once in a while, I get a letter from some impatient person asking, why don't we just get it over with? Why don't we issue an ultimatum, make all-out war, drop the atomic bomb? For most Americans, the answer is quite simple: We are not made that way. We are a moral people. Peace is our goal, with justice and freedom. We cannot, of our own free will, violate the very principles that we are striving to defend. The whole purpose of what we are doing is to prevent World War III. Starting a war is no way to make peace. But if anyone still thinks that just this once, bad means can bring good ends, then let me remind you of this. We are living in the eighth year of the atomic age. We are not the only nation that is learning to unleash the power of the atom. A Third World War might dig he grave not only of our communist opponents but also of our own society, our world as well as theirs. Starting an atomic war is totally unthinkable for rational men.
- What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria. You’re going to end up in World War III over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton. You’re not fighting Syria any more, you’re fighting Syria, Russia and Iran, all right? Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk.
- Donald Trump, interview with Reuters on the Syrian Civil War during the 2016 United States presidential election, 26 October 2016
- Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. … They’re very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and, congratulations, you’re in World War III
- Donald Trump, on an interview with Tucker Carlson, 2018
- 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).
- Memorandum For: The President... The drone assassination in Iraq of Iranian Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani... That Iran will retaliate at a time and place of its choosing is a near certainty. And escalation into World War III is no longer just a remote possibility.