Third of 7 parts

IS humanity marching toward another world war?

This third part of our Lenten reflection on who Jesus is ponders whether there's any chance amid rising war rumblings that the world would hear and heed our Lord's words of peace and fraternity, expressed in the March 12 Mass readings for the Third Sunday of Lent and the third of his Seven Last Words on the Cross.

As our February 19 column headline warns, "The big powers are nudging closer to world war" with the threat of Western forces directly battling Russia's in Europe and feared conflict over Taiwan between China and America as early as 2025 (

This face-off pitting Russia and China against the United States-led blocs, which our country joined with nine Philippine bases for US use, now roils the leading regions of Eurasia and North America.

Compounding tensions and threats are expanding arms, and armies with rival powers brandishing the most fearsome weapons in history, including nuclear warheads more destructive and unstoppable than ever after Washington and Moscow scrapped decades-old pacts limiting atomic weapons.

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Plus secret biological and chemical arsenals banned by international law, but probably stockpiled by nations to retaliate against germ and gas attacks. Alleged bioweapons projects include Ukraine labs funded by Washington and targeted by Moscow, and Wuhan gain-of-function research said to have received US funding, too — and spawned the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Even more worrisome than escalating arms spending is actual war and war preparations with the year-old Ukraine conflict intensifying and, it's feared, possibly drawing US and European forces into the fray.

Moscow has mobilized and equipped some 700,000 troops — the largest and most powerful since the Second World War — while the Washington-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), already arming Ukraine, is pondering direct combat despite low readiness due to decades of limited defense spending.

And in Asia, America and Japan are gearing up to counter a feared Chinese invasion if Taiwan moves toward independence. Tokyo has put all its forces on rapid-deployment mode, and Washington is beefing up missile batteries in Okinawa and getting set to deploy aircraft, vessels, rockets and troops out of nine Philippine bases.

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