The Foreign Service Journal, May 2021

42 MAY 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL FOCUS ON ARCTIC DIPLOMACY A battle-ready flotilla of 50 warships and 40 military aircraft cruised across the North Pacific. In its path was a small fleet of American fishermen. When the flotilla’s course encroached on the U.S. fishing grounds, the flotilla aggres- sively directed the fishing fleet to leave the area. The fishermen, a resilient and experienced group—the “seen it all” type—were understandably shocked. Seeing no choice, they quickly fled the scene. After all, what could an unarmed collection of fishermen do in the face of such a force? When the prop mist settled, the fishermen were left wondering what they had just confronted. One even pondered whether America was being invaded. This incident is not an anecdote from Pearl Harbor or the Aleutian Campaign. It was a Russian military operation that took place this past August in the Bering Sea. It was the largest assemblage of military resources in the region since the Cold War and included nuclear submarines equipped with cruise missiles, warships, advanced fighter jets and strategic bombers. The exercise, known as Ocean Shield, did not cause any physical harm, but this should not obscure its threat. Ocean Shield forced a U.S. Bering Sea fishing fleet to run from their fishing grounds even though they were legally operating inside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. The involuntary withdrawal cost the fishermen millions of dollars and also put a fissure in the armor of “Arctic exceptionalism”—the decades-old norm by which the Arctic has remained a zone of peace. Arctic exceptionalism has long been the normative concept that prescribes the Arctic as a unique region with a set of unwrit- ten rules, beliefs and history that has given it a level of immunity Can the Arctic’s unique distinction as a zone of peace be maintained? “The Arctic Senator” explains what it will take. BY L I SA MURKOWSK I U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is the first Alaska-born senator and the state’s senior senator. Sen. Murkowski is the U.S. Representative to the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region and co-chair of the Senate Arctic Caucus. She is considered the leading expert among her congressional colleagues on Arctic issues and is dedicated to helping America develop its role as an Arctic nation. Arctic Exceptionalism