Victor Davis Hanson

America is $16 trillion in debt. We are tired of three wars. The Obama administration initially thought putting a little "light" into the once-solid relationship between Israel and the United States might coax Arab countries into negotiating a peace. That new American triangulation certainly has given a far more confident Muslim world more hope -- but it's hope that just maybe the United States now cannot or will not come to Israel's aid if Muslim states ratchet up the tension.

It is trendy to blame Israel intransigence for all these bleak developments. But to do so is simply to forget history. There were three Arab efforts to destroy Israel before it occupied any borderlands after its victory in 1967. Later, it gave back all of Sinai and yet now faces a hostile Egypt. It got out of Lebanon -- and Hezbollah crowed that Israel was weakening, as that terrorist organization moved in and stockpiled thousands of missiles pointed at Tel Aviv. Israel got out of Gaza and earned as thanks both rocket showers and a terrorist Hamas government sworn to destroy the Jewish state.

The Arab Middle East damns Israel for not granting a "right of return" into Israel to Palestinians who have not lived there in nearly 70 years. But it keeps embarrassed silence about the more than half-million Jews whom Arab dictatorships much later ethnically cleansed from Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and sent back into Israel. On cue, the Palestinian ambassador to the United States again brags that there will be no Jews allowed in his newly envisioned, and American subsidized, Palestinian state -- a boast with eerie historical parallels.

By now we know both what will start and deter yet another conflict in the Middle East. In the past, wars broke out when the Arab states thought they could win them and stopped when they conceded they could not.

But now a new array of factors -- ever more Islamist enemies of Israel such as Turkey and Iran, ever more likelihood of frontline Arab Islamist governments, ever more fear of Islamic terrorism, ever more unabashed anti-Semitism, ever more petrodollars flowing into the Middle East, ever more chance of nuclear Islamist states, and ever more indifference by Europe and the United States -- has probably convinced Israel's enemies that finally they can win what they could not in 1947, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982 and 2006.

So brace yourself. The next war against Israel is no longer a matter of if, only when. And it will be far more deadly than any we've witnessed in quite some time.

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.