In the past month, Russia’s long-range nuclear bombers, alongside some of their most capable fighters, have made two flights through Alaska’s Air Defense Identification Zone. In both instances, America’s most capable fighters, F-22 Raptors, were scrambled to intercept, ensuring the Russian aircraft wouldn’t have the opportunity to enter American airspace even if they had intended to. But, and in keeping with tradition, the Russian and American aircraft met in the skies above the northern Pacific, flew alongside one another for a short time, and then parted ways.

No harm, no foul.

Among the service members tasked with making these intercepts, I can imagine that a fair amount of effort goes into combating the complacency that comes from making these intercepts on a fairly regular basis. Here in the rest of the country, however, an opposing effort has been unintentionally mounted. Defense journalists and well-informed cynics who enjoy being the contrarian in online debates have been eager to dismiss these most recent intercepts as “just the latest” in a long history of Russian provocation.

“This happens all the time.”