The new war between Israel and Hamas has amply illustrated that what Middle Eastern and American officials were claiming was the most peaceful in decades was anything but.
It was an easy mistake to make: across the region, negotiations were breaking out among hardened foes, countries were scaling back or ending interventions, and everyone seemed to be breathing a collective sigh of relief.
As is usual in the Middle East, the outbreak of peace is often just a harbinger of war.
The great question, therefore, is how to take advantage of the lull in various other conflicts across the Middle East to diminish the likelihood that they flare into conflict again or to ensure that the United States and its allies are fully prepared to win if they lead sooner or later to new conflicts, as has traditionally been the pattern.
The place to start is in the Gulf.
Over the past year or so, America’s Gulf partners have made a conscious effort to make amends with Iran. In March, Saudi Arabia and Iran, two regional heavyweights whose struggle for influence has shaped the politics of the Middle East since the birth of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, reached a normalisation agreement with Chinese help.
Smaller Gulf countries have pursued détente with Iran, too, with Abu Dhabi even preceding Riyadh in its attempts to de-escalate and restore ties with Iran.
Lowering the temperature and diminishing the use of force is generally welcome. But in this case, it could prove to be the light of a false dawn if it doesn’t elicit a deft response from Washington.
Rather than moving the region closer to peace, this regional rapprochement has handed Tehran a series of dangerous victories, including bringing its murderous Syrian client in from the cold.