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The Defense Dividend

BRUSSELS – On a hillside overlooking the Turkish city of Gaziantep, Patriot missile launchers are keeping watch under NATO command and control. This is just one of six Patriot batteries from three Allied countries – Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States – providing protection for millions of people along Turkey’s southeastern border with Syria. The deployment shows NATO’s enduring commitment to its core task: safeguarding its members’ security. It also shows that, when a crisis erupts, there is no substitute for effective deterrence and defense.

Virtually every day brings fresh evidence that an arc of crisis – from terrorism and weapons proliferation to cyber-attacks and piracy – is spreading from the Middle East and the Sahel to Central Asia. These risks will not disappear while NATO members focus on fixing their finances. The fact is that our way of life is predicated on security and stability, without which investment withers, employment collapses, and economies shrink.

In these tough economic times, we are all acutely aware that security comes at a price. But we must not forget that the cost of insecurity is unacceptable. Defense is our essential insurance policy in a complex and unpredictable world.

Conflicts take a terrible human toll, while restoring peace and supporting reconstruction is extremely expensive. For example, the total cost of the Balkan wars of the 1990’s is estimated at $150 billion. Today, NATO continues to maintain a safe and secure environment for all of Kosovo’s people, and is helping the entire region progress along the path of Euro-Atlantic integration.