A few miles off the coast of the far northeast corner of the continental United States is a disputed international boundary and a “gray zone” of water over which the United States and a peer nation have competing claims of sovereignty. These waters offer a warning regarding the effectiveness of the military’s current “culture of presence.”
Often viewed as areas of competition short of conflict, such gray zones actually are likely flashpoints, and restricting U.S. operations in these disputed areas to showing presence is an untenable practice. It has fostered a dangerous culture within U.S. naval forces, who increasingly confuse presence with action. Such a culture gives the advantage to belligerent nations and nonstate actors and must be rooted out of strategic visions and policies in favor of a “culture of aggressive nonviolence,” meaning one enabled to seize, burn, and sink with due care for the preservation of life.
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