March 7, 2024 - 10:26pm

Investor David Sacks brought his campaign against US involvement in Ukraine to Washington DC last night. Speaking for over 40 minutes at a gala for Republican think-tank American Moment, in which he was honoured with an award, he made the case that American involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war has been a failure.

Speaking alongside a slide presentation titled “Biden’s Backfire”, the tech entrepreneur blamed Joe Biden for prolonging, escalating and even partly provoking the conflict. Although he began his history of the conflict with what he called Nato’s “unbelievably reckless” open door policy towards Ukraine, he blamed the President in particular for scuppering the 2022 Istanbul agreement. “These terms were certainly more favourable than anything Ukraine is going to get now,” he said. “Once Biden sabotaged the peace deal, he became a co-owner of this war”.

Sacks was speaking to an audience of young conservatives, Trump-aligned Republicans and “realist” critics of US foreign policy, including former Trump advisor Stephen Miller, Arizona Congressional candidate Blake Masters and Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, whose introductory remarks were interrupted by environmental protesters.

The 51-year-old laid out four key “backfires”, starting with the economic sanctions. “The idea that sanctions are working is totally delusional,” said Sacks. “The Russian economy stabilised and even outperformed G7 economies in 2023”. According to the entrepreneur, the “real victim” of the sanctions was Europe, which was seeing “far-Right” parties surging in support across the continent as a result. “The population of Europe has realised that this war is not in their interests,” he said.

The venture capitalist went on to attack Democrats and neoconservative Republicans for claiming that military support, the second major failure, would “weaken” Russia. Citing the asymmetric cost of artillery shell production, the size of Russia’s military versus Ukraine’s, and the yawning gap in war enthusiasm in the two countries, Sacks concluded that “while seeking to weaken Russia we only weaken ourselves”.

Downstream of these military shortcomings Sacks listed another failure: diplomacy. “The rest of the world has not come along for the ride,” said the investor. “They have rejected Biden’s framing of the war”. Consequently, more and more countries, most notably the Brics alliance, were “committed to undermining the dollar status as a global reserve currency”. In turn, “the project to show American leadership had backfired and catalysed resistance to the US all over the world”.

But it was Ukraine, he argued, that was suffering the most from US involvement in the war. The conflict has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe, the fourth and final backfire, which according to Sacks has “doomed the country”. “The fertility rate was not at replacement level before the war but it has now plummeted,” he said. “Now there’s a huge “gouging out” of the country’s working population. How will the country survive demographically?”

Sacks reserved most ire for the Washington “blob” that he accused of pushing a “narrative mirage,” with an endlessly receding and changing end goal. What began as a promise to help Ukraine win decisively in early 2022 has slowly morphed into seeking a stalemate until settling on merely “survival” today. “The blob is now promoting ‘hold and build,'” he argued. “It wants to hold Ukraine together so that can rebuild in 2025”.

The venture capitalist concluded with the controversial idea that American hostility to Russia is a “manufactured conflict” that really started with Russiagate. He argued that the “fantasy that Putin was controlling our elections” meant that the “Russiagate hoax had metastasised into a new cold war with Russia”. In order to prevent World War III, he implored the US to “cut a deal” and seek detente with Russia, which would provide a baseline for peace on the world stage.

Sacks summed up his message to his audience: “stop listening to the bipartisan cabal of warmongers”.

is UnHerd’s Newsroom editor.