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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Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 1:30pm
Watching the Same Movie About American War for 75 Years
In the age of the all-volunteer military and an endless stream of war zone losses and ties, it can be hard to keep Homeland enthusiasm up for perpetual war. After all, you don't get a 9/11 every year to refresh those images of the barbarians at the airport departure gates. In the meantime,...
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Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 2:45pm
'Open for Business' American-Style: The Military-Industrial Complex in Iraq
The current American war in Iraq is a struggle in search of a goal. It began in August as a humanitarian intervention, morphed into a campaign to protect Americans in-country, became a plan to defend the Kurds, followed by a full-on crusade to defeat the new Islamic State (IS, aka ISIS, aka ISIL),...
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Wednesday, December 31, 2014 - 1:45pm
Did You Know We Won the Afghan War This Weekend?
Winning wars used to be much cooler. But hey, did you know we won the war in Afghanistan this weekend? Or, at least we ended the war in Afghanistan this weekend? It is true. America’s longest war, clocking in at more than 13 years, (fun fact: the U.S. involvement in WWII, when we defeated the Nazis...
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Monday, November 10, 2014 - 7:00am
What Could Possibly Go Right? Four Months into Iraq War 3.0
Karl von Clausewitz , the famed Prussian military thinker, is best known for his aphorism “War is the continuation of state policy by other means.” But what happens to a war in the absence of coherent state policy? Actually, we now know. Washington’s Iraq War 3.0, Operation Inherent Resolve, is...
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Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 12:15pm
What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Seven Worst-Case Scenarios in the Battle with the Islamic State
You know the joke? You describe something obviously heading for disaster -- a friend crossing Death Valley with next to no gas in his car -- and then add, “What could possibly go wrong?” Such is the Middle East today. The U.S. is again at war there, bombing freely across Iraq and Syria, advising...
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Friday, October 10, 2014 - 9:30am
I Read al-Qaeda’s Inspire Mag So You Don’t Get Arrested
Inspire is an English language online magazine published since 2010 by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. I just read the latest issue so you won’t get arrested doing so. Aimed primarily at radicalizing youth audiences in the U.S. and Britain, the mag appears semi-regularly (twelve issues so far)...
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Friday, September 26, 2014 - 9:00am
Ray McGovern Triumphs Over State Department
If you don’t know Ray McGovern yet, you probably should. You see, Ray just beat down, in court, Hillary Clinton, the State Department, and a small part of Post-Constitutional America. Who is this Guy? McGovern is a changed man. He started out in the Army, then he worked for the CIA from the Kennedy...
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 10:00am
Apocalypse Now, Iraq Edition
I wanted to offer a wry chuckle before we headed into the heavy stuff about Iraq, so I tried to start this article with a suitably ironic formulation. You know, a d éjà-vu- all-over-again kinda thing. I even thought about telling you how, in 2011, I contacted a noted author to blurb my book, We...
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 1:30pm
Obama Was Right the First Time: He Has No ISIS Strategy
Obama said a week ago he did not have a strategy to combat ISIS, and that now he does. He was right the first time. Oh, History The United States ignored ISIS for months. Then out of nowhere a complex situation morphed into a struggle to save the Yazidis from so-called genocide, requiring special...
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Friday, August 8, 2014 - 5:00pm
Why Airstrikes in Iraq Are a Mistake
As America goes back to war in Iraq with airstrikes, here’s what to know and do instead: – This is a slippery slope if those words have any meaning left. Airstrikes are in part to protect American advisors sent earlier to Erbil to support Kurds there because Iraqi central government won’t. The U.S...
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