World War III

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search
A nuclear holocaust is often associated with World War III.

World War III (WWIII or the Third World War) is a hypothetical conflict that denotes a successor to World War II (1939–1945). The conflict would be on a global scale, with common speculation that it would likely be a nuclear war and devastating in nature.

In the wake of World War I, World War II, the commencement of the Cold War and the development, testing and use of nuclear weapons, there was early widespread speculation as to the next global war. This war was anticipated and planned for by military and civil authorities, and explored in fiction in many countries. Concepts ranged from the limited use of atomic weapons, to the destruction of the planet.


Other historic conflicts as World War III

Norman Podhoretz has suggested that the Cold War can be identified as World War III because it was fought, although by proxy, on a global scale, with the main combatants, the United States and later NATO, and the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries providing political, military and economic support while not engaging in direct combat.

Eliot Cohen, the director of strategic studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, declared in The Wall Street Journal, a month after the September 11 attacks , that the struggle against terrorism was more than a law-enforcement operation, and would require military conflict beyond the invasion of Afghanistan. Cohen, like Marenches, considered World War III to be history. "A less palatable but more accurate name is World War IV," he wrote. "The Cold War was World War III, which reminds us that not all global conflicts entail the movement of multi-million-man armies, or conventional front lines on a map."[1] In a 2006 interview, U.S. President George W. Bush labeled the ongoing War on Terror as "World War III".[2]

On the July 10, 2011 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, host John Gibson interviewed Michael Ledeen, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and said "some are calling the global war on terror something else, something more like World War III." But Ledeen responded that "it's more like World War IV because there was a Cold War, which was certainly a world war." Ledeen added that "probably the start of it [World War IV] was the Iranian revolution of 1979." Similarly, on the May 24, 2011 edition of CNBC's Kudlow and Company, host Lawrence Kudlow, discussing a book by former deputy Under-Secretary of Defense Jed Babbin, said "World War IV is the terror war, and war with China would be World War V."[3]

Historical close calls

Cold War

Before the end of World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was concerned that, with the enormous size of Soviet forces deployed in Europe at the end of the war and the perception that the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was unreliable, there was a serious threat to Western Europe. In April–May 1945, British Armed Forces developed Operation Unthinkable, the Third World War plan; its primary goal was "to impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire."[4] The plan was rejected by the British Chiefs of Staff Committee as militarily unfeasible.

With the development of the arms race, before the collapse of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War, an apocalyptic war between the United States and the Soviet Union was considered possible. Among the historical events considered potential triggers for such a conflict are:

After the Cold War

Popular culture

World War III is also a common theme in popular culture. Who might start World War III and how it might start are perennial topics of discussion in press. A vast apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic science fiction literature exists describing the postulated execution and aftermath of World War III, several notable movies have been made based on World War III, and it is the topic of various comics, video games, songs, magazines, radio programs, newspapers and billboards.

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

Albert Einstein[9]

World War III in fiction

World War III has been the topic of countless games, movies, and books. World War III and its predicted aftermath continues to be portrayed in popular media around the world such as in recent video games Metro 2033, Fallout, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Homefront, ARMA 3, and APOX and in anime such as the Ghost in the Shell and Mobile Suit Gundam 00 metaseries.

Further Reading

See also


  1. ^ World War III? | – Canada – Features. Retrieved on 2011-12-26.
  2. ^ Bush likens 'war on terror' to WWIII. 6 May 2006. ABC News Online
  3. ^ Right-wing media divided: Is U.S. now in World War III, IV, or V? | Media Matters for America. (2006-07-14). Retrieved on 2011-12-26.
  4. ^ British War Cabinet, Joint Planning Staff, Public Record Office, CAB 120/691/109040 / 002 (1945-08-11). "Operation Unthinkable: 'Russia: Threat to Western Civilization'" (online photocopy). Department of History, Northeastern University. Archived from the original on 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  5. ^ Andrew Osborn in Moscow and Peter Foster (May 13, 2010). "USSR planned nuclear attack on China in 1969". Telegraph. 
  6. ^ CBC Digital Archives (news recording)
  7. ^ David Hoffman (February 10, 1999). "I Had A Funny Feeling in My Gut". Washington Post. 
  8. ^ "Cold War’s Riskiest Moment". Baltimore Sun, Aug. 31, 2003 (article reprinted as The Nuclear War That Almost Happened in 1983). 
  9. ^ Calaprice, Alice (2005). The new quotable Einstein. Princeton University Press. p. 173. ISBN 0-691-12075-7