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.”

“This isn’t a big deal, why are we even talking about it?”

The intent behind these statements, of course, is to dissuade the Chicken Littles that announce the sky is falling every time they spot a Russian Tu-95 bomber in the skies over the Pacific.  But the unintended effect is encouraging complacency among the American people.

Nowadays, our very concept of conflict and warfare is insulated by 73 years of relative peace. Yes, the United States has been at war for nearly two decades, but those wars have been intrinsically different from the state conflicts of the past. American forces engaging in counterinsurgency and anti-terror operations have been fighting a difficult fight, but one with unique threats as compared to the defense initiatives of many other nations that are still genuinely fighting to defend their very sovereignty. America’s war effort has been about rooting out threats to national security, but in much of the world, Defense is a far different enterprise than we perceive it in the relative safety and comfort of the United States.

Put simply, because it’s been 73 years since the United States found itself fighting an open war with a near-peer level opponent, most modern Americans have lived their entire lives in a world where going to war meant deploying troops to the other side of the globe to achieve some objective. America goes to war, war doesn’t come to America.