“For two years Iraqi politicians had been warning anybody who would listen to them that if the civil war in Syria continued it would destabilise the fragile status quo in Iraq,” Cockburn writes. “When Mosul fell everybody blamed Maliki, who certainly had a lot to answer for, but the real cause of the debacle in Iraq was the war across Iraq’s border. The revolt of the Syrian Sunni had caused a similar explosion in Iraq.”

If western governments have been blind to the threat represented by groups like Isis, many journalists have also been pleased to fall in with the orthodox narrative about the conflict in Syria.

Cockburn notes that much western reporting of the Arab Spring was informed by a naive belief that technological innovations such as social media had fundamentally changed political realities. “Antagonisms that predated the Arab Spring were suddenly said to be obsolete; a brave new world was being created at hectic speed,” he writes.

Read the full review in The Irish Times.

Verified by MonsterInsights