Paul Pillar sees Iraq's role in the Arab Spring as the nail in neoconservatism's coffin:
A fatal flaw in the neocon dream was the almost oxymoronic idea that something imposed from the outside by the United States could motivate people in the Middle East to act on behalf of popular sovereignty. As for the country that was supposed to play the role of lead democratic domino, one of the principal trends in recent years in Iraq—besides the continued violence, which has lately had an upsurge—has been the increasing authoritarianism of the regime of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Now we're in a different decade from Bush and his war, and there is a genuine burst of yearning for popular sovereignty in the form of the Arab Spring. And what is the posture of the Iraqi regime toward the Arab Spring, specifically next door in Syria, which is currently the hottest front line in the confrontation between freedom and authoritarianism? Maliki is maintaining a distinctively friendly posture toward the Assad regime, while that regime is gunning down protestors in Syrian cities.