Rising from the ashes of the Eugenics Wars of the mid-1990s, the era of World War III was a period of global conflict on Earth that eventually escalated into a nuclear cataclysm and genocidal war over issues including genetic manipulation and Human genome enhancement. World War III itself ultimately lasted from 2026 through 2053, and resulted in the death of some six hundred million Humans. By that time, many of the planet's major cities and governments had been destroyed. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"; Star Trek: First Contact; VOY: "In the Flesh")
Prior to the war, in 1968, when a time-displaced Captain James T. Kirk was trying to reason on whether or not he should trust Gary Seven to stop a nuclear weapon, Seven warned Kirk that if he didn't allow Seven to stop the weapon, World War III would commence then. (TOS: "Assignment: Earth") The Eugenics Wars themselves were also, at times, referred to as World War III. (TOS: "Space Seed")
World War III was fought in an era where various factions were known to control their military with narcotics. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint") Among the parties involved was the Eastern Coalition (also referred to as "the ECON"), whose direct attacks included those against the United States of America. (Star Trek: First Contact) In 2026, at the start of the war, Colonel Phillip Green led a faction of eco-terrorists that was responsible for the loss of thirty-seven million lives. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses", "The Savage Curtain"; ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")
Colonel Green's activities during the war were often cited as "genocidal" and treacherous. He and his troops personally killed hundreds of thousands of individuals affected with radiation sickness and other "impurities," using as a rationale that it was necessary in order to prevent their passing on such traits to later generations. (ENT: "Demons", "Terra Prime") He was notorious into the 23rd century for striking at his enemies in the midst of negotiating with them. (TOS: "The Savage Curtain")
Despite an escalating and ongoing global conflict, manned space exploration continued at least into the 2030s, for example the Ares IV mission to Mars in 2032 and the launch of the Charybdis in 2037, Humanity's first mission to leave the Sol system. (TNG: "The Royale"; VOY: "One Small Step") The New United Nations was also founded during these early years of World War III, and was among the first attempts to rebuild Humanity during this era; for instance, by 2036, it had declared that no Human being would be held accountable "for the crimes of their race or forebearers." But not everyone heeded or respected this decree and some parts of the world later "abolished all United Earth nonsense." (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")
Humanity eventually turned over a new leaf when a few courageous people began to realize they could make a difference. (ENT: "Judgment") The war culminated circa 2053, when several of Earth's governments met in San Francisco to declare a cease-fire, effectively ending the war. (ENT: "Demons") As a result of this world war, like the two before it, whole generations were nearly wiped out. (ENT: "Judgment") The use of nuclear weapons engulfed Earth with an immense dust cloud, resulting in numerous nuclear winters. (TNG: "A Matter of Time") When it was over, Earth's atmosphere was irradiated with a detectably heightened amount of radioactive isotopes. (Star Trek: First Contact) Although they were aware of it, the Vulcans did not intervene during the course of World War III, as they perceived it as a local problem they should not get entangled with. (ENT: "Terra Prime")
In 2063, a short time after Earth emerged from this global war, First Contact was made with the Vulcans, leading to increased recovery from the war for parts of the world. (Star Trek: First Contact) Recovery from the war was ongoing for the following decade, and was impeded by the 2069 onset of the first of the Earth-Kzin Wars, prompted when a sublight Kzinti invasion force arrived in the Sol system. The war was fought with what sublight ships were available, as major construction of warp-capable starships had barely begun, and ended when the first starships were dispatched to the Kzinti homeworld.
When news of the Vulcan contact reached Vulcan, some Vulcans, including V'Lar, were fascinated by Humanity, but also worried, believing the idea that Humans had deemed themselves ready to join the interstellar community, so soon after the war, seemed premature. (ENT: "Fallen Hero") Indeed, for several years after first contact, various parts of Earth were still affected by what became known as the "post-atomic horror." In 2079, one such culture reverted to a state of near-barbarism that followed the credo "kill all the lawyers," and "guilty until proven innocent." (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint") Due to these and other factors, parts of Earth continued to be in – as Captain Jean-Luc Picard put it in 2365 – "chaos" well into the early 22nd century. (TNG: "Up The Long Ladder")
The post-atomic horror gave way to the stirrings of new attempts at establishing various unified world alliances, including the European Hegemony in 2123. (TNG: "Up The Long Ladder") These alliances were eventually instrumental in the establishment of the United Earth Government in 2150. (TNG: "Attached")
By the early 2100s – less than two generations after the post-atomic horror – Humanity was finally able to eliminate most if not all poverty, disease, war, and hunger. Along with it, a lot of other things disappeared from Humanity, including hopelessness, despair, and cruelty. (TNG: "Time's Arrow, Part II"; Star Trek: First Contact; ENT: "Broken Bow", "Demons")
The legacy of the war was felt in many ways during the hundred years after its conclusion. It was the subject of many films during that time and, in 2153, one of these epics won a majority of awards. (ENT: "Home") In the early 22nd century, the philosophy of Neo-Transcendentalism was founded by Liam Dieghan; he advocated "a return to a simpler life" in response to the war's carnage. (TNG: "Up The Long Ladder") The war additionally influenced a powerful xenophobic movement of mid-22nd century Earth known as Terra Prime. Led by John Frederick Paxton, the organization drew inspiration from the war through adoption of Colonel Green's goals and teachings concerning a "pure" Human race. It also blamed the Vulcans for not stopping the war with their superior technology, and thereby saving the lives of hundreds of millions of people. This blame was then channeled into a general distrust of all non-Humans. (ENT: "Demons", "Terra Prime")
In 2372, Admiral Leyton described the threat of the Founders of the Dominion infiltrating Earth and its facilities as being "maybe the greatest danger it's faced since the last world war." (DS9: "Homefront")
|Earth wars prior to the Federation|
|Crusades • American Revolution • American Civil War • World War I • World War II • Brush Wars • Earth Cold War • Eugenics Wars • World War III • Earth-Kzin Wars • Earth-Romulan War|
Background information Edit
During development of TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", World War III was alluded to as a potential result of the Sino-Western trouble. Although not referred to in the final draft of the script (dated 3 May 1966), the war was addressed by NBC executive Stanley Robertson in a letter he wrote about the first revised final draft of the teleplay and sent to Gene Roddenberry on 17 May 1966. In that letter, Robertson stated, "As we discussed, a suggestion would be that on Page 48 of this draft, it be made pointedly clear that there was no 'World War III' between the Sino-Western powers. Let's keep emphasizing with our writers, as we know you have been, that this is a topic we'd like to avoid." In the second revised final draft of the script (dated 20 May 1966) and a deleted scene from "The Corbomite Maneuver", World War III was referred to as having been averted, in the outcome of the Sino-Western trouble. ("Inside the Roddenberry Vault, Part I", Star Trek: The Original Series - The Roddenberry Vault special features)
In DS9: "Past Tense, Part II", following Kira Nerys and Miles O'Brien's visit to San Francisco during an alternate 2048 (where the Bell Riots had not occurred), O'Brien noted that that was "not the mid-21st century that [he] had read about in school," adding, "Earth history had its rough patches, but never that rough." It might be interesting to know what O'Brien saw that was more "rough" than a nuclear war responsible for six hundred million casualties.
Like the Earth-Romulan War, very few details have been presented in Star Trek on World War III. In 1996, this event received a Trekker's Choice Award for the 'Oft Heard but Never Seen' Award, as being "the favorite historical moment only alluded to in Star Trek."
According to the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction catalog, during the middle of ENT Season 4, plans were in place for an episode to feature Colonel Green. It was planned to link Q's World War III uniform to the colonel by having the emblem on Q's hood appear on flags representing Green. Such a flag was created for "In a Mirror, Darkly", and seen in the briefing room aboard the ISS Enterprise. When Enterprise was canceled, plans for the episode fell through and all that remains of the link between Q's uniform and Colonel Green is the flag seen in the mirror universe.
- World War III at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- World War III at Wikipedia
- World War III in popular culture at Wikipedia
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