Ambassador Elson on Europe

Edward Elson (Ambassador to Denmark, 1993-1998)

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Following President Obama’s trip to Europe, what do you think the top US foreign policy priorities should be in Europe? Do you agree with the President’s call to provide $1 billion to boost the US military presence across Europe?

While serving as in Europe, I was constantly challenged as to the amount of money allocated by the US for the purpose of foreign aid. Frustrated by the lack of gratitude to the US for the security safety-net provided over the then past 50 years, I developed a standard reply about their trading their foreign aid budget percentage for our defense spending percentage. I was inevitably met with a stony silence but the accusation would never be brought forward again. I found our trusted European allies willing to hold our coats in a fight but reluctant to join in, an attitude both craven and selfish. Nothing seems to change.

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