When Elon Musk unveiled his notorious Ukraine peace proposal on Twitter last month, it caused quite the stir. For simply outlining the potential contours of a negotiated settlement between Ukraine and Russia, the new Twitter CEO was derided as a dangerous Putin apologist (despite his company Starlink providing internet to Ukraine at a cost of $20 million a month). It happens that Musk is not the only Silicon Valley mogul who has come under fire for taking a realist line on the conflict.
In fact, a friend of Musk’s, David Sacks, wrote an article in which he alleged the West had entered into “Woke War III”. Over the course of the war, the woke Left and the neoconservative Right have been marching in lockstep, and using “woke cancellation tactics” to suppress any dissenting opinions.
Sacks, a multimillionaire venture capitalist and host of the hit podcast ‘All-In’ expands on his thinking in UnHerdTV’s latest interview. Speaking to Freddie Sayers, Sacks warns that removing voices which challenge official government policy has dangerous consequences: “The result, once you de-legitimise and remove from the conversation any of the voices for de-escalation and peace […], nothing is left except for calls for greater escalation and more involvement in war. And that’s where we’re at today.”
America’s attitude to Ukraine is a symptom of what Sacks calls Biden’s “Manichean” war on authoritarianism at home and abroad. Biden “has fused foreign policy and domestic policy into this Manichean struggle against dictatorship, anywhere in the world. But the problem with that is that anything we don’t like is labelled dictatorship.” It is also, Sacks believes, an example of how the culture war has evolved into something more insidious: “A lot of people thought that the culture war was sort of the sideshow and wasn’t really relevant to our politics, but now it has sort of metastasised into something, I think, much scarier.”
Ultimately, Sacks believes the USA should be looking to do what’s in the American interest. As he puts it, “I’m not on the Russian side, or the Ukrainian side, per se. I’m on the American side.” And back home, there is much to be worried about: “It would be ironic if, in our zeal, in our crusade to battle authoritarianism abroad, we give up our fundamental civil liberties at home, our rights to free speech, our rights to make a living, our rights to be free from political prosecution.”
Perhaps, following Musk’s acquisition of Twitter last week, the tide might be turning. Sacks certainly thinks so: “I do think that Elon buying Twitter […] will be helpful in the sense that Elon has said that he believes in free speech, not censorship, and hopefully, that’ll inspire other people to push back against these authoritarian tendencies in the West.”