How to defeat a caliphate

Private military contractors have a bad name, but a great record against the Islamist insurgency in Nigeria

Last Sunday Isis raised their black flag over Palmyra. Below the flag, in the days that followed, the usual carnage began: beheadings, torture, desecration. Syrian state TV has reported that over 400 civilians have been killed already, and the big question globally has become: how could this have happened? What went wrong with the Iraqi and Syrian troops? Isn’t there anything the West can do?

Lord Dannatt, the former head of the army, has called on the British government to ‘think the previously unthinkable’ and send troops. He’s right that air strikes are no substitute for decent ground troops — but he must also know there’s no appetite here or in America for risking our boys’ lives.