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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old September 18 2013, 01:59 PM   #46
Christopher
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Re: Hypothetical World War III

Mr. Laser Beam, you're mistaking one possible form of WWIII for the only possible form. As I've said, many works of fiction portray WWIII as a limited nuclear exchange. Not all nuclear weapons are huge multi-megaton city-killers; there are also smaller, tactical nuclear weapons designed for more surgical strikes. Both fiction and real-life military analyses have always acknowledged the possibility of a more limited, targeted nuclear war that would fall far short of global armageddon.

Keep in mind, after all, that the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not actually do more damage than the most extensive conventional firebombings employed in the war. They were just a more efficient way of doing what had already been done to the majority of cities in Japan by that point, as well as many in Europe. So nuclear weapons are not automatically a quantum leap upward in destructive scope. They can be more targeted, focused, efficient.

And this makes perfect sense in a Trek context extrapolated from our own present state. The idea that nuclear war would destroy all life on Earth was a product of the '70s and '80s when the US and USSR built up hugely disproportionate nuclear arsenals, driven as much by the greed of defense contractors as by any legitimate military need for that much overkill. But we've both disarmed significantly since then. Not to mention that the geopolitical status quo has changed considerably since the old two-rival-superpowers paradigm; there are more nuclear players, most of whom have smaller arsenals and more localized rivalries. So the old all-or-nothing paradigm of WWIII that you're thinking of is outdated. There are many possible ways it could go. A nuclear conflict could devastate some parts of the world while leaving others virtually untouched. It could be asymmetrical, with one nuclear state devastating a non-nuclear state so that there'd be no mutually assured destruction. Or it could be fought surgically, with small, tactical nukes directed mainly against military targets. Heck, thinking in modern terms, it might be fought mainly using suitcase nukes smuggled in by suicide bombers, rather than by spreads of missiles flying between continents.
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Old September 18 2013, 07:21 PM   #47
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Re: Hypothetical World War III

Christopher wrote: View Post
There are many possible ways it could go. A nuclear conflict could devastate some parts of the world while leaving others virtually untouched.
Might that explain America's swift recovery vs. ECON's post-atomic horror in the 2070s (building the Conestoga, Valiant and Friendship One vs. Encounter at Farpoint)? It always made me wonder.


Christopher wrote: View Post
Heck, thinking in modern terms, it might be fought mainly using suitcase nukes smuggled in by suicide bombers, rather than by spreads of missiles flying between continents.
Like the TV series Jericho depicted it, I'd imagine.
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Old September 18 2013, 07:52 PM   #48
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Re: Hypothetical World War III

Markonian wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
There are many possible ways it could go. A nuclear conflict could devastate some parts of the world while leaving others virtually untouched.
Might that explain America's swift recovery vs. ECON's post-atomic horror in the 2070s (building the Conestoga, Valiant and Friendship One vs. Encounter at Farpoint)? It always made me wonder.
Stands to reason. Even a world war can affect different parts of the world differently. People often say VGR's "Future's End" must've been in an alternate timeline without the Eugenics Wars because Los Angeles in the 1990s was intact. But none of the real wars of the 20th century had any battles fought on American soil, so why should a fictional war be any different? America is a very small percentage of Earth.

Although I think the ships you mention were the work of UESPA, not America exclusively. At least Friendship 1 was, and that tells us that United Earth had to exist as a government by then, even if it didn't include the whole world yet.
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Old September 18 2013, 08:29 PM   #49
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Re: Hypothetical World War III

Back during the early years of TNG, I remember noticing a curious coincidence - Q refers to his courtroom in "Encounter at Farpoint" as "a court of the year 2079, by which time more "rapid progress" had caused all United Earth nonsense to be abolished". And, even though Q's courtroom did have a vaguely Asian feel to it, there were plenty of non-asians in the crowd. Then, in "The Royale", when the Enterprise-D finds debris with a US flag on it from the Charybdis in the atmosphere of Theta VIII, Riker notes that the 52-star flag was in use from 2033 to 2079. It made me think that 2079 had to have been at or near the end of WW III and that the US was severely weakened if not destroyed, as a government, at least.

But after First Contact came out, I've questioned that. Riker's line about 600 million dead, major cities gone, governments collapsed, etc. certainly makes it sound like the whole world was damaged to one extent or another, and the camp in Bozeman didn't seem very luxurious to say the least. But on the other hand, they somehow managed to scrounge up materials to convert an ICBM into the Phoenix (nacelles and all) and that can't have been easy or inexpensive, so they must have had access to some kind of resources. Plus, the Phoenix obviously had to have managed to return to Earth and land again somewhere near hier launch point without being destroyed (since Picard has seen it in the Smithsonian), so the modifications to the ICBM must have been truly extensive. So the fact that Cochrane, despite his group's raggedy-looking appearance, must have had some kind of support from someone, which to me argues against the US (or at least the northwestern US) being in a post-atomic horror-like state.

And, of course, one Asian-looking courtroom and a small camp in rural Montana probably shouldn't be taken as a picture of Earth as a whole. It would be awesome to have a unifying explanation for all of the various WW III allusions over the years, although I tend to doubt it would ever happen.
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Old September 19 2013, 01:30 AM   #50
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Re: Hypothetical World War III

Is this where we slyly suggest maybe characters in the Rise of the Federation series might discuss WWIII as a comparison point to other cultures?
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