Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq as a State Department Foreign Service Officer serving as Team Leader for two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). Now in Washington, he writes about Iraq and the Middle East at his blog, We Meant Well. His new book is We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books).

Articles by this author

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Monday, July 25, 2016 - 11:45am
Defeating Islamic Terrorism. Here’s How…
As terrorism struck again in Nice and Germany and… Donald Trump outlined his policy against Islamic State: as president, he will seek a full declaration of war from Congress, the first such formal invocation since Pearl Harbor. Trump was short on specifics but very clear he would take the...
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Monday, July 18, 2016 - 3:30pm
At Cleveland Repub Convention, ‘First Amendment Zones’ Will Detain Protesters Far Away From Trump
Once upon a time, all of America was a First Amendment Zone. That’s now as dead as Alexander Hamilton. The city of Cleveland revealed part of its security plan for the Nuremberg rally Republican National Convention. Securing the convention will require a heavily policed, fenced off 3.3 square-mile...
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Saturday, June 25, 2016 - 9:45am
New Service Sends Summaries of Your Social Media to Landlords, Employers to 'Assess' You
Here’s a shout out to all of you who said “If I’ve got nothing to hide I’ve got nothing to fear” after the Snowden revelations. And this little gem deals only with publicly available information about you. Imagine what it’s like when it gets into the good stuff you think is private. An Orwellian...
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Thursday, June 16, 2016 - 2:30pm
The FBI ‘Missed’ Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen. What Should We Do?
If I had to choose one phrase to sum up America’s efforts against terrorism since 9/11, it would be that lay definition of mental illness, doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Following 9/11 we had to go after the terrorists in their dark lairs. So we did, in Afghanistan...
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Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - 12:30pm
Obama and the Myth of Hiroshima
On May 27, Barack Obama became the first sitting American president to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, the site of the world’s first atomic bombing. Though highly photogenic, the visit was otherwise one that avoided acknowledging the true history of the place. Like his official predecessors (...
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Monday, May 16, 2016 - 10:00am
The Snapchat Version of American Victory
One of the most popular apps these days is Snapchat. It allows the sender to set a timer for any photo dispatched via the app, so that a few seconds after the recipient opens the message, the photo is automatically deleted. The evidence of what you did at that party last night is seen and then...
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Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 9:15am
Another Way the Rich Get Richer: Their Parents Give Them Obscene Amounts of Money Nearly Tax-Free
It’d be great if we were all self-made men, like Citizen Trump. Of course, his self-making, like that of many wealthy people, is based in large part on a wealthy parent giving him a ton of money. Why work for a living when you can just hang around drinking single malt until daddy dies and leaves...
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Monday, May 9, 2016 - 1:45pm
For Upcoming Conventions, Secret Service Aims to Handcuff First Amendment
Thomas Jefferson said that an informed citizenry is critical to a democracy, and with that as a cornerstone the Founders wrote freedom of the press into the First Amendment to the Constitution. The most basic of ideas at play is that the government should in no way be allowed to control what...
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 10:15am
Why Don’t the Candidates Talk About Afghanistan?
Heading into its sixteenth year, with no endpoint in sight, America’s longest war is its least talked about. Afghanistan has not come up in any Republican or Democratic debate, except perhaps as one of a list of countries where Islamic State must be destroyed (left out is the reality that no...
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Friday, April 8, 2016 - 10:15am
‘Please Do Not Feed the Animals’: Oklahoma GOP Compares Food Stamp Recipients to Park Animals
In America, we have a very crude understanding of social welfare programs. For most Americans, anything the government gives to its people (i.e., us) to keep us healthy, fed and educated, is a “handout” to lazy people who don’t deserve it. Helping each other, using our tax money for us, as does...
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