Everyone knows that if World War III was to happen, many nukes would be thrown around. So now, I am worried about World War IV! What new weapons would be invented, and what would fighting be like?

Some Questions to answer: What would the be fighting with? Why would they be fighting? Who would be fighting? Where would they be fighting?

A good answer would be one which gives the most realistic yet creative answer.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome. Your question is likely to be closed as too broad - it fails what some of us call "a book test", if you can easily imagine entire books written to answer a question, it is not narrow enough to answer in Stack Exchange format. Please take a look at How to deal with “Please develop my High Concept” questions? to see current community thoughts on the kind of questions you just asked. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Sep 24, 2018 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ You may want to add some more details in order for your question to have more definitive answers. When is the war being fought? Who's fighting? Why are they fighting? Did anything happen in the last war that would effect this one in a major way? $\endgroup$
    – Giter
    Sep 24, 2018 at 20:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ VTC. Too broad and primarly opinion-based. The SE model is one-specific-question/one-best-answer. SE is not a discussion forum. Please review our meta posts about high concept questions and open-ended questions. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 24, 2018 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think I've ever seen a question "what would x be like?" that was answerable. It's simply not a good question. It completely ignores the complexity of everything. You have already asked more specific questions, I would just leave out the be like stuff. And of course one at a time. State the premise: The world has survived a nuclear (world) war x years ago, it looks like this: ... and then ask how a new WW might break out, or what there is to fight about, how globalization/imperialism works post apocalypse and so on. But limit it to one question, better ask in multiple threads $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Sep 25, 2018 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Potatolatte I can't tell you what World War IV would be like in real life. But I can tell you a little bit about what World War IV is like in one fictional universe, the Star Trek universe. In this thread: trekbbs.com/threads/… in the Trek BBS, my post # 43 discusses the list of world wars in Star Trek and concludes that the Third World War in the TNG era list would probably be the fourth or later world war in the TOS era list of Earth's world wars. $\endgroup$ Sep 25, 2018 at 15:55

3 Answers 3


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

-- attributed to Albert Einstein

This is supposed to mean that nukes in WWIII would destroy the civilization and plunge us back into the stone age.

  • $\begingroup$ An edit and an upvote! Exactly what I was going to say! ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Fabby
    Sep 24, 2018 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Fabby when you edit quotations, please use quotation syntax. It makes things easier for search engines and, for example, screen readers used by visually impaired. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Sep 24, 2018 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Mołot I'm an idiot! I should have known that! ;-) Thanks for improving my edit! $\endgroup$
    – Fabby
    Sep 24, 2018 at 20:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Fabby don't be hard on yourself. Happens. But I will be here and will force you all to use correct syntax, buahahahaha <evil laughter> $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Sep 24, 2018 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ Relevant XKCD: xkcd.com/1687 $\endgroup$
    – Dubukay
    Sep 24, 2018 at 22:46

It depends on how WWIII goes.

As far as I can tell it can go two ways: nuclear war is the obvious one. The less obvious one is an escalation of violence that turns into an all-out war but nobody dares throw nukes. This war will last until one faction feels so threatened losing it's territory that it has little to reason not to throw nukes, starting with tactical ones and going bigger as things escalate from there. At which point the "winning" faction is either smart enough to stop and force a treaty or stupid and nuclear war ensues anyway.

If it's nuclear war the survivors would likely be rebuilding when more war comes along, it's anyone's guess what technology they have when they get to worldwide warfare again.

If it's the forced peace treaty... Drones, AI, robotics, viruses&bacteria who's DNA is custom build, metamaterials, microsattelites in the stratosphere that guide munitions etc. We already have the first prototype drone tanks, and while they have a long way to go before they are any use they could change much of the battlefield.

AI is also a wildcard. Even the builders wont know exactly how it will assign priorities to the tasks it is given, and the country that builds one first a week before the opposition would already be MONTHS ahead due to how fast AI's will be and the research they can do in a week.


Einstein is supposed to have said

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

He was right on both counts.

World War III

World War III, also known as the Cold War, began after World War II and lasted until Christmas 1991 when the Soviet Union broke up. It was fought with many weapons: proxy wars between client states (N/S Korea, N/S Vietnam, etc.), propaganda, espionage, economic competition, and more. Some might say the Beatles and McDonald's hamburgers were main weapons--peace and prosperity in the free world ultimately winning out over the poverty and despair of Communism. The space race from Sputnik to Apollo to the SDI program convinced the USSR that it could not compete technologically (militarily) without bankrupting itself. Our Lady of Fatima predicted that Bolshevism would end once Russia was consecrated to her Immaculate Heart--John Paul II saw that this was done in 1986. Or it could have been America's diplomatic example -- the Communists were claiming to embrace "reform" and "openness" in the 1980s and Reagan called their bluff, demanding that they prove it. Whichever of these weapons you think ultimately ended the Cold War, I'm sure it was not what Einstein would have predicted. I'm guessing he was expecting an exchange of nukes (that old cliche). So he's right on the first point.

World War IV

As to the fourth World War, what could cause it? Let us imagine. Let's imagine that, worldwide, governing elites in the most free, most prosperous nations quietly declared war on their own nations in the name of a kind of internationalist world order with no borders, no national identities, and institutions that only serve themselves rather than their peoples. Let's say that these governments decided to corrupt the bureaucracies and courts so that elections could not remove them from power, and decided to rig the vote by flooding their own countries with foreign criminals and hostile aliens who, having no love of the host countries, would happily vote for the established government in exchange for handouts of money and immunity for the crimes they commit. I know, I know, this is far-fetched, but just bear with me...

Let's say that these foreigners begin trafficking drugs, trafficking human slaves, establishing brutal criminal gangs, and committing horrific rapes, murders, etc., in the land, and the people start saying "enough!". But let's say, no matter what they do at the ballot box, the parties they elect refuse to fulfill their promises, and the situation continues to deteriorate. Soon, terrorist groups are committing assassinations and open violence against the citizens, and their governments are refusing to take action. Maybe they are ordering police to "stand down" and let the attacks proceed, maybe they are even arresting journalists for reporting on the violence, or blaming the victims of these attacks for "hate crimes".

What then, might the citizens of the free world do? Sooner or later, perhaps, they might turn to vigilantism. American citizens might form "militias" to fight against MS-13 and Antifa. Swedes and Englishmen might start forming gangs of their own to battle immigrant rape gangs that have taken over their leading cities. Italians and Spaniards may form citizen coast guards to turn back invaders arriving by sea.

In this scenario, World War IV would not have "front lines" or even regular armies (because the governments are at best neutral, possibly on the enemy's sides) hence the fighting would be house to house, street to street. Outside of North America and Switzerland, firearms are hard for law-abiding citizens to obtain, so you'll likely see lots of improvised weapons:

  • pressure cooker bombs
  • molotov cocktails
  • trucks
  • knives
  • bike locks
  • sticks
  • stones

If things were to proceed down this road, Einstein could be proven right on his second count, if we extend "sticks and stones" to mean any crude, brutal, improvised weapons.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You can't really consider a cold war between Russia and America a world war. Firstly there was no actual warfare, it was an arms race and ideology race between America and Russia which America won and emerged as the only superpower. Secondly, your assumed WWIV isn't so much of a world war as a war against immigration? Einsteins quote implies that we nuke ourselves (MAD) back into the stone age. Not become vigilantes and fight against the immigrants fleeing warzones. $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Sep 25, 2018 at 4:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This isnt just far-fetched, it's plain racism. And I really despise having to say that with how the SJW's soiled the meaning. You readily assume that not only are there enough immigrants and criminala to take over cities and cause entire civil wars, but they are for the most part violent rapists. Also you fail to mention what the elite gain from this. Control of the world which they subsequently dont really use? $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Sep 25, 2018 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Shadowzee many people consider the Cold War to have been WWIII. There was actual warfare, in Korea, in Vietnam, in Cuba, etc, and the stakes were high the whole time. All wars are different. $\endgroup$
    – workerjoe
    Sep 25, 2018 at 17:56
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Joe no experts on the cold war considers it ww3. There may be people who do, but they are objectively and inarguably wrong (no offense). The Korean, and Vietnam wars were too small scale to be considered as such. The fighting in Cuba did get us close to starting, but in itself wasn't close at all. Search "was the cold war ww3?" to see links describing in quite a bit of detail why the cold war was not ww3. Good one to start: quora.com/Why-was-the-Cold-War-not-considered-World-War-III $\endgroup$ Sep 25, 2018 at 19:21
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Joe I'm sorry but what kind of opinion leads to "WWIII was the cold war"? The first and second WW's were global in every sense of the world. Leading up to those WW's there was tension, threats and also smaller skirmishes. The cold war is the buildup to WWIII as it shares a lot with the buildup of the other two wars, but it failed to become a global war. Even if every single nation had intervened on one side or another in both Vietnam and Korea it still wouldnt have come close to the actual two WW's that went before.<-- thats how you make an argument, rather than comment on someone's age. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Sep 25, 2018 at 20:00

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .