Peter Van Buren

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 9, 2017 - 12:30pm
Dark Threads of Immigration in America
For those who say “This is not who we are,” well, look again. It all seems to be exactly who we are and have been. President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travelers, immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries is only the latest twist of dark threads that have always...
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016 - 11:00am
Symbolic Failure Point: Female Afghan Pilot Wants Asylum In The US
History loves little markers, tidy packages of symbolism that wrap up a big, complex thing. You know, the helicopter on the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon standing in for years of failed war, the Berlin Wall being knocked down to visually note the end the Cold War, that sort of thing. Well...
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 1:00pm
Looking Ahead: Clinton’s Plans for Syria
Hillary Clinton has a plan for defeating Islamic State in Syria. Donald Trump has one, too. With the conflict in Syria spreading beyond its borders, it’s essential to understand the new president’s strategies – and how they may need to be adjusted over the next four years. Trump: Safe Zones Trump...
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - 8:45am
Does Free College Threaten Our All-Volunteer Military?
Does free college threaten our all-volunteer military? That is what writer Benjamin Luxenberg, on military blog War on the Rocks says. But the real question goes deeper than Luxenberg’s practical query, striking deep into who we are as a nation. Unlike nearly every other developed country , which...
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - 12:45pm
For $178 Million, the US Could Pay for One Fighter Plane – or 3,358 Years of College
Does free college threaten our all-volunteer military? That is what Benjamin Luxenberg, on the military blog War on the Rocks says. But the real question goes beyond Luxenberg's practical query, striking deep into who we are and what we will be as a nation. Unlike nearly every other developed...
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Monday, September 19, 2016 - 9:15am
It’s Personal: Apologizing to My Daughter for the Last 15 Years of War
I recently sent my last kid off for her senior year of college. There are rituals to such moments, and because dad-confessions are not among them, I just carried boxes and kept quiet. But what I really wanted to say to her -- rather than see you later, call this weekend, do you need money? -- was:...
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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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