World War III

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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
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
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

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 communist and "free world" countries with the military rivalry most acute between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Quotes[edit]

In alphabetical order by author or source.
  • 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 lesson of 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.
    • Alice Bailey, PROBLEMS OF HUMANITY. The Alternative Is Another War
  • 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, (April 18, 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.
  • What never happened, despite universal fears that it might, was a full-scale war involving the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective allies. The leaders of these countries were probably no less belligerent than those who had resorted to war in the past, but their bellicosity lacked optimism: for the first time in history no one could be sure of winning, or even surviving, a great war. Like the barbed wire along the Hungarian border, war itself-—at least major wars fought between major states—had become a health hazard, and therefore an anachronism. The historical currents that produced this outcome are not difficult to discern. They included memories of casualties and costs in World War II, but these alone would not have ruled out future wars: comparable memories of World War I had failed to do so. J. Robert Oppenheimer hinted at a better explanation when he predicted in 1946 that "if there is another major war, atomic weapons will be used." The man who ran the program that built the bomb had the logic right, but the Cold War inverted it: what happened instead was that because nuclear weapons could be used in any new great power war, no such war took place. By the mid-1950s these lethal devices, together with the means of delivering them almost instantly anywhere, had placed all states at risk. As a consequence, one of the principal reasons for engaging in war in the past—the protection of one's own territory—no longer made sense. At the same time competition for territory, another traditional cause of war, was becoming less profitable than it once had been. What good did it do, in an age of total vulnerability, to acquire spheres of influence, fortified defense lines, and strategic choke-points? It says a lot about the diminishing value of such assets that the Soviet Union, even before it broke up, peacefully relinquished so many of them.
  • It is my conviction that if there had been anything in the nature of a North Atlantic Treaty in the World before 1939, there would have been no second world war. It has been described as "the unnecessary war". Surely a third world war, immensely more devastating, more agonizing than its prdecessors, is not only the unnecessary, it is the avoidable war. Not only can we avoid it; we must avoid it. It is in this hope that many European countries have abandoned their historic neutrality; that is why the United States of America have abandoned their historic isolationism from European affairs; that is why all like-minded nations are determined that never again shall an aggressor be given a chance - as Hitler was - of swallowing us one by one.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Golo Mann, in Hamburg’s Die Zeit (August 30, 1985); also in The Watchtower (15 February 1986) [1],
  • 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 wallCommerce 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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