DISARM at our peril. That’s the lesson from history.

And now, with our armed forces a shadow of their former selves, the Iraqis are calling for help as Islamist extremists stream down from the north, committing atrocities against soldiers and civilians alike.

So, what to do? Well, on Monday, Foreign Secretary William Hague stated the obvious when he said the US was “much more likely to have the assets and capabilities for any outside intervention”.

How right he is.

And while we would never intervene on our own militarily, we should be suitably equipped to take our place on the world stage if it’s in our national interest – and a stable Iraq is.

But since the defence review four years ago, the budget has been reduced by nearly eight per cent.

With the next round of cuts in sight, senior commanders of all three services are telling the government to stop before it’s too late.

Our “assets and capabilities” have been cut to the bone, indeed, “into the bone,” according to Admiral Lord West.

Independent research now shows that defence expenditure will fall to 1.9 per cent of GDP by 2017, and 1.6 by 2024, well below NATO’s two per cent target.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair says the current predicament in Iraq could have been avoided if we’d bombed Syria. Remember, in 2003, he and President Bush invaded Iraq on trumped-up evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

The true intention all along, as Mr Blair admitted this week, was regime change. Consequently, a corrupt Shia government took control, depriving the Sunni majority of all power.

The UK may be a small nation, but we have huge responsibilities.

We must keep our guard up.