|World War III|
Allies and Partners
| Warsaw Pact:|
|Commanders and leaders|
| John F. Kennedy |
Lyndon B. Johnson
| Nikita Khrushchev |
|Casualties and losses|
| Military dead:|
Over 28 million
Over nine million
Over 37 million
| Military dead:|
Over 40 million
Over 15 million
Over 55 million
World War III (also known as the Third World War or WWIII / WW3) was a global war lasting from 1962 to 1970 and involving the vast majority of the world's nations. It pitted the United States of America, its NATO allies, and their partners against the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, as well as other Communist countries and insurgent groups worldwide. It was the most widespread conflict in human history; fighting took place in nearly every region of the globe including the Arctic and Antarctic and on every continent except Antarctica, and the war directly involved an estimated 500 million people from more than 50 countries and numerous insurgent groups. It surpassed World War II as the deadliest war in human history, with an estimated 92 million to 115 million people dead as a result of it.
The war began in October 1962 as a result of a dispute of Soviet nuclear missile bases in Cuba. Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev had been shipping nuclear missiles to Cuba's Communist regime in the wake of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and in response to the presence American Jupiter ballistic missiles in Italy and Turkey. US intelligence had discovered the missiles and their launch sites, and President Kennedy ordered the Soviets to remove the missiles. On October 27, and American U-2 spy plane was shot down observing Cuba and another was intercepted and shot down over Siberia. President Kennedy then ordered a lightning air-raid on Cuba, followed by a full-on military assault. Premier Khrushchev then ordered his armies to capture West Berlin and to attack NATO aircraft patrolling above Turkey. The two powers exchanged declarations of war, followed by their allies, and the war quickly spread to almost every region of the world.
American forces successfully occupied Cuba by November 5, taking over nuclear bases there. The day after, Warsaw pact forces captured West Berlin and launched their invasion of Europe, initiating one of the most brutal theatres of the war. NATO forces were driven back to the West German capital of Bonn, where they successfully defended the city from Communist forces. Soviet aircraft engaged NATO aircraft over Turkey and attempted to gain air superiority and destroy Allied nuclear bases in the country, but were defeated.
The war also raged in East Asia and Africa, as Soviet-supported Communist forces attempted to defeat Western-supported countries and gain dominance. Fighting raged in Korea, Vietnam, and the Pacific Islands, as well as in Central and Southern Africa against the Soviet-supported Socialist Republic of the Congo. The Soviets also attempted an invasion of Alaska, and the US and Soviet navies fought each other in all the world's oceans throughout the war.
In autumn 1963, the Soviets attempted to break the stalemate on the Western Front by launching another lightning-invasion of the West, but were defeated in the decisive Battle of Meppel. They were also losing ground in Africa and Alaska. Anti-Communist insurgent groups had arisen in many Warsaw Pact states by this point, and the Communist forces were facing a manpower shortage.
In July 1964, the Soviets invaded the West yet again, but were decisively defeated at the Luxembourg in one of the largest-scale battles in the history of war. With this victory, and the growing strength of anti-Communist groups in the Eastern Bloc, the Allies were finally able to break through the stalemate and invade East Germany. They recaptured Berlin in mid-1965, granting the Free German Army authority there as a provisional government. In central Asia, the Soviets became bogged down in a long campaign in Iran and Pakistan, further draining their resources and supplies. In 1967, Communist forces in central and southern Africa surrendered, and South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee scored a major victory over the North Koreans at Wonsan. North Vietnamese forces also suffered a major defeat at Khe Sanh, and Communist insurgents in Southeast Asia were losing ground fast.
From 1964, the Allies began talks with the People's Republic of China for terms of entry into the war, and China began providing aid to the Allies that year. After a deal was reached in which China would make large territorial gains after the war, Chairman Mao Zedong declared war on the Soviets in June 1965. This front would prove to be the most brutal of the war, with millions of troops dying for small initial territorial gains. However, forced into a two-front war, the Soviets began to lose ground quickly, with their economy and society taking incredible strain. Popular resistance in Warsaw Pact countries led to the defection of most of their governments by the end of 1968, and a NATO-Allied invasion of Russia soon after. With their military strength crippled, the Soviets were forced to sue for peace, which was concluded the following year.
World War III altered the political structure of the world. Communist regimes were overthrown worldwide and democratic elections were held. The UN was strengthened to prevent all war, and it led a reconstruction effort to rebuild large parts of the world that were devastated by the war. With the fall of Communism, economic integration and globalization emerged, and the European and Asian Unions were formed in an effort to create common identities.