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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Friday, December 4, 2015 - 10:30am
Guns and Deaths: We Really Don’t Care, Do We?
More than one a day. That is how often mass shootings (four or more people wounded or dead) occurred in the United States this year. Including the worst shooting of the year (so far), which unfolded only yesterday in San Bernardino, a total of 462 people have died and 1,314 have been wounded in...
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Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 11:15am
After 13 Years in Gitmo, Pentagon Says Detainee is Case of ‘Mistaken Identity’'
Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri was captured in 2002 and believed then to be a major al Qaeda facilitator or courier, or maybe a trainer, according to the Department of Defense. He was interrogated “vigorously” and when he did not admit to those activities and did not supply detailed,...
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - 1:00pm
Syria: What Would Boots on the Ground Look Like?
Pressure on the White House to escalate the Syria/Iraq war has no doubt intensified post-Paris. Should Islamic State take things further and strike an American civilian target, President Barack Obama would be all but forced to “do something.” What would that “something” likely look like, and what...
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Saturday, November 21, 2015 - 9:00am
US Special Forces in Combat: Nothing New for Iraq and Syria?
The United States recently unveiled a new approach in Iraq and Syria it insists is not new at all: Special Forces will be sent into direct combat. “The fact is that our strategy… hasn’t changed,” Josh Earnest , the White House press secretary, said. “This is an intensification of a strategy that...
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015 - 12:15pm
Stopping ISIS: Follow the Money
Wars are expensive. The recruitment and sustainment of fighters in the field, the ongoing purchases of weapons and munitions, as well as the myriad other costs of struggle, add up. So why isn’t the United States going after Islamic State’s funding sources as a way of lessening or eliminating their...
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Sunday, November 15, 2015 - 9:15am
Paris: You Don’t Want to Read This
You don’t want to read this, and I take no pleasure in writing it, and no one really wants to hear it right now. But I believe it needs to be said. I join the world in grieving for the dead in Paris. I have grieved for the dead from 9/11 forward — the Australians who died in terror attacks on Bali...
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Friday, October 30, 2015 - 2:00pm
Tell Us Why We’re At War in Iraq Again, Mr. President
When I was a kid, three presidents told us we had to fight in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, because if we didn’t fight them over there, we’d have to fight them on the beaches of California. We believed. It was a lie. I was a teenager during the Cold War, and several presidents told us we needed to...
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 11:00am
About That Delta Force Guy Killed in Iraq…
( Editor's note: When Van Buren wrote this article, he predicted Washington would use the death of Sergeant Joshua Wheeler as a propaganda tool to enable greater U.S. involvement in the Iraq/Syria war. Sad to say, it took less than 24 hours for Van Buren's prediction to come true, as Secretary of...
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Friday, October 23, 2015 - 10:00am
What If They Gave a War and Everyone Came?
What if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq in 2003? How would things be different in the Middle East today? Was Iraq, in the words of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the " worst foreign policy blunder " in American history? Let's take a big-picture tour of the Middle East and try to answer those...
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Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 8:45am
America’s Civilian Killings Are No Accident
America and its allies make modern war in a way that assures “mistakes” destroy hospitals, and civilian lives are taken by drones. These horrors are all too often strategic decisions, or the result of the profligate use of needlessly destructive weapons. They are typically far from accidents. The...
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