What about my prediction that "[w]ith American seriousness and credibility thus restored, we will enjoy fruitful cooperation from the region’s many opportunists, who will show a newfound eagerness to be helpful in our larger task of rolling up the international terror network that threatens us"? That, too, turned out to be true. Witness how, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, Muammar Qaddafi? suddenly decided to give up his weapons of mass destruction, and even the Iranian government paused its development of nuclear weapons. We did get more cooperation even from our foes when our credibility was at its height in 2003. That cooperation waned, however, as we became bogged down in an insurgency in Iraq, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stubbornly refusing to send enough troops to gain control of the situation. The success of the surge once again restored American credibility–but it is in danger of eroding again, with President Obama prematurely drawing down in Afghanistan and all but pulling out of Iraq.
It's staggering to contemplate the epistemic closure here.
The point of the criticism of the Iraq war is not against its immediate military success (which did temporarily achieve what Boot notes) but in the lack of a follow-through, because we do not understand and cannot indefinitely govern foreign countries against the will of their people. To keep insisting on the former fact when the latter stares us in the face – when tens of thousands of innocents died because of Boot's armchair prognostications – is close to nuts.
Boot seems to believe our problem is that we didn't act more like an old-style empire, indefinitely occupying two of the least governable places on earth: Iraq and Afghanistan. He still wants an eternal empire, even as he sees the Arab Spring as somehow a vindication of neoconservatism. Does he not realize that the Arab Spring broke out after neoconservatism was defeated in 2008? That al Qaeda has been decimated far more by Obama than by Bush? But that would require the kind of soul-searching that is banished by neoconservatism's high priests. Never admit error.