New York Times columnist says Ukraine conflict is the first ‘real’ World War our planet has experienced

Breaking down the Russian military strategy in Ukraine

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In a recent opinion piece, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman claimed that the ongoing war in Ukraine is the first “real” World War. 

The column, originally headlined “Ukraine Is the First Real World War,” was highlighted on both The New York Times’ and Friedman’s Twitter accounts Sunday. Both tweets can still be viewed; however, the column has since been given a new headline on the Times’ website.

The article is now headlined, “Putin Had No Clue How Many of Us Would Be Watching.”

A dog lays next to the body of a civilian in Bucha, Ukraine on April 3.  

“Almost six weeks into the war between Russia and Ukraine, I’m beginning to wonder if this conflict isn’t our first true world war — much more than World War I or World War II ever were,” Friedman wrote in the opening of the column. 

Friedman then goes on to dub the war “World War Wired” because “virtually everyone on the planet” can either participate in or be affected by the war on a “granular level,” noting the economic impacts of the conflict. 

The Times columnist added that “everyone is watching,” and that unlike World War I and II, wherein those outside of the war zone were “extremely poor” and “subsistence farmers” minimally impacted by the war, now everyone has a smartphone and access to social networks through which to experience the war in our “giant connected globalized and urbanized” world. 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – APRIL 03: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks on screen during the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 
(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

In 2014, following the takeover of Iraqi city Mosul by Sunni extremists, Friedman wrote the “real war of ideas” was not religious ideology, but rather the war between “religious extremists” and “committed environmentalists.” 

He asserted at the time that this war, which could lead to an “ecological disaster zone,” was the only conflict “worth taking sides on.”

Among Friedman’s other opinion pieces include “What Trump, San Francisco and the Deer in My Backyard Have in Common,” “Vladimir Putin Has Become America’s Ex-Boyfriend from Hell,” and “How to Defeat Trump and Catch a Frisbee.”

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