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The ‘Peace Dividend’ Is Over in Europe. Now Come the Hard Tradeoffs.


In the 30 years since the Iron Curtain came crashing down, trillions of dollars that had been dedicated to Cold War armies and weapons systems were gradually diverted to health care, housing and schools.That era — when security took a back seat to trade and economic growth — abruptly ended with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.“The peace dividend is gone,” Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the International Monetary Fund, recently declared, referring to the mountains of cash that were freed up when military budgets shrank. “Defense expenditures have to go up.”The urgent need to combat a brutal and unpredictable Russia has forced European leaders to make excruciating budgetary decisions that will enormously affect peoples’ everyday lives. Do they spend more on howitzers or hospitals, tanks or teachers, rockets or roadways? And how to pay for it: raise taxes or borrow more …

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