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, 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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Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 9:15am
Dead Is Dead: Drone-Killing the Fifth Amendment
You can't get more serious about protecting the people from their government than the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, specifically in its most critical clause: "No person shall be... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." In 2011, the White House ordered the drone...
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Friday, July 18, 2014 - 10:00pm
If at First You Don’t Succeed in Iraq, Surge, Surge Again
America’s new strategy for resolving the Sunni-Shi’ite crisis in Iraq? The Surge — again. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey sounds as if he were reading off the 2007 script, echoing the divide-and-conquer strategy that was the basis for the Surge: “If you can separate those [Sunni]...
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The signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia. (Credit: Library of Congress) Views
Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 10:00am
Shredding the Fourth Amendment in Post-Constitutional America
Here’s a bit of history from another America: the Bill of Rights was designed to protect the people from their government. If the First Amendment’s right to speak out publicly was the people's wall of security, then the Fourth Amendment’s right to privacy was its buttress. It was once thought that...
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Kim Davies/cc/flickr Views
Monday, June 16, 2014 - 8:45am
What We've Lost Since 9/11
America has entered its third great era: the post-constitutional one. In the first, in the colonial years, a unitary executive, the King of England, ruled without checks and balances, allowing no freedom of speech, due process, or privacy when it came to protecting his power. In the second, the...
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