I’ll start with a mea culpa. For a long time, I have dismissed the West’s enemies as small fry, unambitious and far away. And, for a long time, I have advocated an anti-interventionist line in dealing with them. But the massacre of Christians in the Middle East and Russia’s transparent abuse of ceasefire agreements in Ukraine has made me fear that I might have mistaken cowardice for realism. Nicholas Wapshott’s The Sphinx tells the story of an unnervingly similar epoch, in which canny interventionism proved to be a wiser course.