Progressive Ben & Jerry's founder donates $1 million to group opposing Joe Biden's Ukraine policy: report
Ben Cohen, founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, has been a major donor to liberal and progressive causes and often agrees with Democrats — specifically, those in the party's left wing. But in 2023, Cohen is a vocal opponent of centrist Democratic President Joe Biden's Ukraine policy — which he considers overly hawkish. And according to the Daily Beast, he has expressed that opposition by donating over $1 million to the Eisenhower Media Network (EMN), a group opposing Biden on Ukraine.
In an article published by the Daily Beast on March 20 , journalist Anna Nemtsova reports, "This left-wing critique of U.S. policy — which grows out of a deep-rooted anti-war sentiment — brings some on the left into line with the talking points of fringe Republicans such as (Rep.) Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and (Rep.) Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), who also argue that Washington is overspending in defense of Ukraine. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential GOP presidential candidate, claimed last week that defeating Putin was not in the U.S.’s 'vital national interests.'"
The MAGA isolationism of Greene and Gaetz is quite a contrast to President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush, both of whom promoted a hawkish foreign policy. Countless pundits in right-wing media, in the past, promoted a caricature of Democrats as weak on national defense.
READ MORE:Why sabotage is a growing form of warfare in Ukraine
But U.S. history cannot be neatly summarized as one of hawkish Republicans and non-interventionist Democrats. Under Democratic presidents, the U.S. fully entered World War 1 (Woodrow Wilson), World War 2 (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), the Korean War (Harry Truman) and the Vietnam War (Lyndon B. Johnson). Truman was the only president in U.S. history to launch a nuclear attack against another country.
In contrast to ultra-hawkish neocons, former President Donald Trump favored the type of isolationist "America First" foreign policy promoted by paleoconservative Patrick Buchanan. Trump picked the ultimate neocon, John Bolton, as his national security adviser, but it was an odd choice given his "America First" views.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been met with a variety of responses in the U.S., from hawkish liberals to liberal critics of Biden's Ukraine policy to MAGA Republican isolationists who want the U.S. to stay out of that conflict — including Trump and DeSantis. In October 2022, a group of liberal and progressive Democrats, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), urged Biden to reconsider military aid to Ukraine..
Biden, during a recent trip to Kyiv, promised additional military aid to President Volodymyr Zelensky. And EMN believes that Biden is being too interventionist.
READ MORE:Conservative tears apart Ron DeSantis’ 'cynical, deceptive, anti-American talking points' on Ukraine
Cohen told the Beast, "I think the U.S. should use its power to negotiate an end to the war, not prolong the death and destruction by supplying more weapons." And EMN Director Dennis Fritz said of U.S. foreign policy, "We gave Putin just cause."
Politics make strange bedfellows, and Nemtsova notes that EMN's views on Ukraine parallel the things that MAGA Republicans such as Greene, Gaetz and DeSantis have been saying.
“E-mail blasts to reporters from EMN included the claim during the debt ceiling crisis that spending on Ukraine was so high that the U.S. government may have to default on its basic duty to pay the salaries of members of the military and to cut Social Security and pension checks," Nemtsova notes. "The message included a quote from EMN's associate director, Matthew Hoh, a former State Department staffer and Marine Corps captain, who said: 'The outrageous federal spending on the Ukraine war is missing from the discussion on the national debt… It's time to think about pausing funding for Ukraine if we cannot afford it.'"
According to Fritz, no EMN donor has been more generous than Cohen.
Fritz told the Beast, "I have never talked about that before, but it is Ben Cohen, remember him — Ben & Jerry's — he is our biggest funder. He is the reason we came about. We do feel that our military budget is too large in some ways, and he believes that if we just target our budget on what we actually need, then we buy more social programs for the United States of America, more social programs that people might also need in Ukraine."
READ MORE: 'The level of ignorance is just profound': Ron DeSantis blasted over his defense of Russia
Read The Daily Beast's full report at this link (subscription required).
- President Joe Biden speaks of protecting 'freedom and democracy at large' after arriving in Kyiv ›
- 'He saved Ukraine': Republican pundit lays out the '10 best things' President Joe Biden did in 2022 ›
- Former GOP strategist praises Biden’s 'alpha move' in Ukraine while slamming MAGA response ›