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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Sunday, June 28, 2015 - 8:15am
Five Things That Won't Work in Iraq
In one form or another, the U.S. has been at war with Iraq since 1990, including a sort-of invasion in 1991 and a full-scale one in 2003. During that quarter-century, Washington imposed several changes of government, spent trillions of dollars, and was involved in the deaths of hundreds of...
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Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 12:15pm
What If There Is No Plan B for Iraq?
In one form or another, the U.S. has been at war with Iraq since 1990, including a sort-of invasion in 1991 and a full-scale one in 2003. During that quarter-century, Washington imposed several changes of government, spent trillions of dollars, and was involved in the deaths of hundreds of...
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Monday, April 13, 2015 - 6:45am
Twelve Years Later, We Know the Winner in Iraq: Iran
The U.S. is running around in circles in the Middle East, patching together coalitions here, acquiring strange bedfellows there, and in location after location trying to figure out who the enemy of its enemy actually is. The result is just what you'd expect: chaos further undermining whatever’s...
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015 - 3:45pm
More on Hillary Clinton’s Use of Personal Email Account at State Department
That sound you hear? That’s Republicans dancing a merry jig, and Benghazi investigators sharpening their subpoenas, because 2016 just got a lot more interesting with the revelation that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton conducted all official business using a personal email account on her own...
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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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