by Panda La Terriere
Tuesday, 1
November 2022
Video
15:20

David Sacks on Ukraine: from culture war to nuclear war?

The venture capitalist speaks to Freddie Sayers about the escalating conflict
by Panda La Terriere

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.”

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chris Barton
chris Barton
25 days ago

“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.”
NAIL ON THE HEAD.

J Bryant
J Bryant
25 days ago
Reply to  chris Barton

The only thing I’d disagree with in that quotation is the implication that loss of our own freedom of expression will be a side effect of battling authoritarianism abroad. I believe the Dems, and significant parts of the establishment, already declared war on freedom of expression long before the Ukraine war broke out. The conflict in Ukraine is just one more tool/excuse for further limiting our own freedom of expression.
Great interview. I hope Mr. Sacks isn’t just a voice in the wilderness.

John McKee
John McKee
25 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

YES!!!!

martin logan
martin logan
25 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Indeed, they probably made Putin invade just to further their own Woke agenda.

(cue Arrogance of Power music)

Indeed, the world really is a very simple place where everything the other side does is meant to further their control over us hapless idiots.

But why didn’t very intelligent people over the last 3000 years spot this conspiracy??

Just shows how dumb and fiendishly clever humans are–at the same time!

Otherwise how would all these ingenious conspiracy theories even work?

Greta Hirschman
Greta Hirschman
23 days ago
Reply to  martin logan

Read ‘How Humans F*** Up the World’. Witty and hilarious.

Greta Hirschman
Greta Hirschman
23 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Not at all. McCarthyism was probably a side effect of fighting the Soviets and Chinese with the help of Germans and Japanese networks. Manichean thought limited all options to a naive anti-Communist fight.
The US did not care about the history and fantastic strategic thinking of the Vietnamese, crushing all internal dissent. Thus they blatantly lost the war.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
25 days ago

Just so people realize, this PayPal deplatforming isn’t uncommon. I was kicked off PayPal less than a week after I made a donation to independent journalist Andy Ngo. I rarely used PayPal and this was the first payment I had made for at least 6 months before, and within a week they refused to allow me access to my account.
This is becoming common. Political tests for access to the banking system are coming.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
25 days ago

Andy Ngo is a remarkable (and brave) journalist. Good on you for that donation. I’ll do the same but, based on your experience, go via Bitcoin. I deleted my Paypal account when FSU were locked out.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
24 days ago

Thank you for sharing that. Paypal _says_ that they are only going to deplatform sellers, not buyers. So that’s a lie, hmmmm.

Martin Rossol
Martin Rossol
21 days ago

As soon as Paypal announced their intent to limit speech (and private transactions between willing buyers and sellers of firearms) i canceled my membership/username, whatever. Will it cause me some inefficiency? Sure. But if we are not willing to put our money where our mouth is, well, we then deserve what we get. As our founders said- and I love them dearly for all their faults – And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. May we do so as well.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
24 days ago

There is nothing reasonable or in America’s interests in seeing a destabilised Europe. The voices calling for dialogue and peace at this juncture are no different to anyone calling for dialogue and peace with Germany in 1943. Had that been offered to Hitler, he would of course said “yes” and frozen the conflict in place with whatever concessions were required as long as he still held some of his gains.
Any peace settlement that doesn’t end with Russia pushed back to the early 2014 borders is not a peace settlement, it’s a ceasefire for a few years until Russia reconstitutes and reorganises its military and starts again.
Also Sacks is wrong to say “Russia is not strong enough to threaten Europe”. Sure, in a straight up economic & conventional military match, they can’t hope match NATO/EU… but for their inevitable threat to use nuclear weapons if they are directly confronted.
Sacks can’t have it both ways: Russia isn’t strong enough but we can’t actually apply our countervailing strength & confront them for fear of their nuclear weapons this time. Or next time. Or the time after that, because the logic does not look any different.
Indeed, why should Russia think a US govt lead by “realists” would use military force to defend even the NATO Baltic states given Russia would yet again threaten nuclear strikes?
If Russia takes down Ukraine due to withdrawal of US support (hard to see non-US backers changing their positions even if US does, but they all lack the deep stockpiles of old NATO spec gear the US is currently sending to Ukraine), then Moldova falls next in quick succession.
All Russia needs to do when they move onto Moldova (openly stated by many in Russia’s elite as the next step given they already occupy Transnistria) is say “if you intervene we will use nukes” whereupon “Realists” like Sacks will dependably oppose confronting Russia. But who cares about Moldova.
If the “Realists” become dominant in USA, then Poland & Sweden should plan on becoming nuclear armed nations with an independent deterrent as a matter of some urgency.
Most of this chat is just Sacks regurgitating Russia Today’s narratives, absurdly claiming this is about NATO expansion, poo pooing the idea there is this whole Russkiy Mir ideology driving Russia.
He should spend less time reading RT (aimed at foreign useful idiots (technical term rather than an insult)) & more time reading RIA Novosti etc (sources aimed at actual Russians) to figure out what really motivates Russa.
Russia attacked Ukraine not because it wants to join NATO but because it wasn’t in NATO, which is an entirely different thing.
NATO is a limit to Russian expansion, not a threat to a non-threatening Russia. In any case, Germany has made it abundantly clear for a decade that it would always veto Ukraine joining NATO. Likewise in what universe would Hungary have agreed? Joining is just wishful thinking in Kyiv as it was not going to happen. The entire “this war is about NATO expansion” argument is a manifestly absurd canard, not to mention an Americocentric delusion about what really motivates Russia (and Ukraine frankly).
In any case, he is also wrong that the ‘riskiest’ theoretical NATO border with Russia would be Ukraine. When if you look at the map & which parts of Russia are economically important, it is the border with the already NATO nations of the Baltics (and now Finland), all close to St. Petersburg with little strategic depth.
But what Sacks et al seem not to grasp is this is not ultimately about Ukraine, not really. It’s about not allowing Europe to be destabilised by a nuclear Russia with interior supply lines once again bordering Romania, Slovakia and south-east Poland.
If Sacks thinks USA has no interest in preventing that, he is in no way realistic. But then there is nothing realistic about the so-called ‘realist camp’, they are just the neo-Chamberlain school of thought muttering about “peace in our time”.
The reason people accuse “Realists” like David Sacks of being pro-Putin is they are indeed functionally pro-Putin, regardless of performative claims to find Russian authoritarianism ‘distasteful’ as if that somehow matters.

Last edited 24 days ago by Perry de Havilland
Steve Cobb
Steve Cobb
24 days ago

Indeed, for both the US and Russia (not Putin), the most serious interests now are precedents and reputation. For example, Putin announced the mobilization shortly after he was roundly dissed (even by the president of Tajikistan!) at the SCO conference in Samarkand.
Putin respected the 1994 Budapest Memorandum same as Hitler respected the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact… until they didn’t. What’s to say that a frozen conflict won’t unfreeze when it suits an aggressor?

Keith Mills
Keith Mills
22 days ago

Phew!! Thank God someone in this Comments section has something sane to say on this matter. And I heartily concur with this poster’s view that those so-called “realists” should start reading RIA Novosti &c (has any one of those so-called “realists” even bothered to read the RIA article Что Россия должна сделать с Украиной, which can easily be translated into one’s own mothertongue using any internet auto-translate feature) and watch Russian State media (for this, go for example to @JuliaDavisNews‘ Twitter feed or follow her “Russian Media Monitor” YT Channel).
If any of these so-called “realists” bothered to do this even for just a couple of weeks, they would have a very rude awakening indeed.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
22 days ago

As the Dutch saying goes: “Cobbler stick to your last”. Just because Mr. Sacks has made a lot of money doesn’t make him a foreign policy expert, and the same can be said of Musk. Moreover, despite Sacks’ protestations, his position does make him pro-Putin/Russian by the simple factor of timing. Declaring or imposing a cease-fire at this time would end up rewarding Russia for its genocidal aggression, by halting the Ukrainian advance and freezing both sides into their present positions; and it would legalize Putin’s 2014 confiscation of Crimea, an issue he dismisses as irrelevant, but which was in violation of all previous agreements. Oh well — Henry Ford was a Hitler sympathizer too, and an anti-Semite to boot.

Last edited 21 days ago by Wim de Vriend
Steve Cobb
Steve Cobb
24 days ago

UnMentioned:

  • The Budapest Memorandum
  • European opinions (particularly of Finland)
  • Russian opinions—Russia is not a monolith, and Putin’s interests are not aligned with Russia’s

Fine to be US-centric when talking about US interests, but even then you have to discuss the Budapest Memorandum and nuclear non-proliferation.
Freddie asked why it is left to Big Tech titans to do the dissenting. Maybe Dunning-Kruger and arrogance?
But Sacks’ criticism of creeping US authoritarianism is much more on target. 

Steve Cobb
Steve Cobb
24 days ago
Reply to  Steve Cobb

Russian commentator Maksim Katz says that peace is only possible without Putin:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MT-IDIj_Hk

Darwin K Godwin
Darwin K Godwin
25 days ago

A voice of reason.

Aaron James
Aaron James
25 days ago

Diversity is our strength(President Bill Clinton’s State of the Union Address on Feb 4, 1997)

So the Postmodernists kicked off their war against reason, and thus against the Classic Liberal West. From that simple position we get Critical Theory, Intersectionality, and Equity; three of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypses – the fourth being, ‘Fallow the Science‘. (as is 2 + 2 = 5,, or ‘Up is Down’) which like the first 3 must be said to be absolute truth or you lose everything. Pretty much Orwellian Frankfurt School, Neo-Marxist, Modernism. They are the termites eating the house foundation.

But I have ranted on this for a long wile on here – so move on. It was a great talk – timely, after all these months of the discussion being totally owned by the warmongering Globalist Neo-Liberals and Neo-cons and their running dogs, the MSM, and Social Media/Tech.

Same as the Covid Plandemic was owned by the Globalist Neo-cons, and Neo-Liberals who used the exact same methods to work their evil response. You have to admit, the mainstream Republicans are just Mainstream Democrats – the Uni-party; That Tories are same as Mainstream Labour; and Uniparty too – all captured, all Davos.

Military Industrial Complex, Bio-Pharma Industrial Complex – the Corporatists own the Swamp, the Government.

Anyway – so the cracks show, Humpty Dumpty like, and I think these two defining events of the World – combined they ARE WWIII, are being shown to be engineered disasters to destroy the world as we know it and bring in The Great Reset.

Dr Malone and his groups are widely accepted now; that the Covid thing was a Plandemic, and war against the citizens of the world – as this regional conflict in Ukraine which the West has engineered to a Global Disaster, WWIII, was to being about the opposite of freedom.

The Question is now we see this, truth is getting out now, will this be stopped? Will the guilty be identified? The truth be told? And the guilty be sanctioned? And things be put back on the best track? Or have we lost to the Globalists?

The writer evokes Hanlon’s razor, I think it goes too far to believe that. (Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.)

””Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action” ― Ian Fleming, Goldfinger. ”

Greta Hirschman
Greta Hirschman
23 days ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Nice ending quote.
It was hardly the Frankfurt School that produced the failures of Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other military interventions allegedly in the name of Human Rights that helped few other than arm dealers and manufacturers.
Marx pointed out what was going wrong, although he hardly provided any useful solution.
It would be better to close a deal with Russia as Sacks and Musk propose, reinforce Europe and fight authoritarian Wokism.

martin logan
martin logan
25 days ago

Bright people who intervene in areas totally different from their area of expertise inevitably say dumb things.

This is one of them

Our venture capitlist has never heard of “balance of power” How could he, when his field is protected by Rule of Law?

Making a business deal over Ukraine is both naive and ridiculous.

I suspect a plumber has more idea about Putin than venture capitalists do.

SO Mr. Sacks, stick to your own lane, until you actually read a little history.

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
24 days ago

Moral blindness.

Lana Hunneyball
Lana Hunneyball
25 days ago

Follow the money, and try not to lose faith in humanity.

Mike Carr
Mike Carr
24 days ago

An interesting interview and I understood the slant that David Sacks was putting on his argument. What I had difficulty with is his reason(s) for his view. I summed it up in my mind as not in our (US) interests to be involved, it is really a local issue of ethnicity. However, he described the background and the issues behind the conflict as anything but a local issue. Like him I try to read around the topic but one thing I could suggest to him is to visit and talk to those who are part of NATO (as are the US) that border Russia. What is their experience and expectations? Or is he suggesting that (not in the interest of the US) means pulling out of NATO as well?

Ibn Sina
Ibn Sina
25 days ago

Metastasise is not the correct word for change it should be metamorphose. When people like this get English wrong, it makes them much less credible.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
25 days ago
Reply to  Ibn Sina

No, it’s fine. Metastasis is what happens when a cancer spreads

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
25 days ago
Reply to  Ibn Sina

The definitions I’m looking at say that metastasize can mean, to spread through metastasis, but also can mean to spread injuriously or destructively, or to transform into a destructive form. It is this third definition which would apply to the author’s use of the word, which is quite acceptable. Metastasis itself means a change in position, state, or form, so again, even according to the strict definition, I believe the author is within the bounds of acceptable usage.

Steven Krut
Steven Krut
24 days ago

What makes Sacks interview-worthy on such a dynamic and complex international quagmire despite no foreign policy experience? Oh, that’s right, he’s ultra-wealthy and friends with Elon Musk. Newsflash: Musk’s cozy relationship with the Pentagon is a much bigger limitation on his expression of views than the alleged woke “hive-mind.”

Greta Hirschman
Greta Hirschman
23 days ago
Reply to  Steven Krut

Alexander the Great did not have a foreign policy experience when he started conquering the world. He had a great education, though.
Do not underestimate age or inexperience.