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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Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - 10:30am
A Soldier and His Dog Come Home for the Last Time
There are two ways to look at the video below, and they are both right. It shows the remains of a soldier and his K-9 coming home for the last time from Afghanistan. The circumstances of their deaths are unknown. One Way If you can get through the video with dry eyes, you may not be human, or may...
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 1:45pm
Freedom! 19,000 Iraqi Civilians Killed in Less Than Two Years
…that works out to about 28 dead every day . It is also an estimate, given that many areas of the country are not readily accessible, and because the death toll from the siege of Ramadi is not accounted for in the figures. More than 3.2 million Iraqis are internally displaced and/or homeless. Iraq...
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Monday, January 18, 2016 - 8:15am
You Won't Like It, But Here's the Answer to ISIS
How can we stop the Islamic State? Imagine yourself shaken awake, rushed off to a strategy meeting with your presidential candidate of choice, and told: “Come up with a plan for me to do something about ISIS!” What would you say? What Hasn't Worked You'd need to start with a persuasive review of...
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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 - 1:15pm
Police are Calculating Your ‘Threat Score’ to Decide How to Treat You
I watched a documentary about North Korea which explained how the government there assigns a score to each citizen, based on how large a threat to the regime s/he is perceived to be. When I lived in Taiwan under a military government years ago, such a number was encoded into every national ID card...
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Monday, January 11, 2016 - 4:00pm
A Game of Thrones in the Middle East
The execution of Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and 46 convicted al-Qaeda members by the Saudis triggered a still-unfolding crisis between the Kingdom and Iran. Protesters in Tehran set fire to the Saudi embassy, and the Iranian government threatened that the Saudis will face “divine” revenge. Riyadh...
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Saturday, January 2, 2016 - 8:15am
We Are Still Alive (Non-Terrorism Edition)
I survived. America, and the world, and you, survived. We awoke the first day of 2016 to find that once again, using the extraordinary power of fear, we defeated the terrorists. Hard as it is to persuade a constantly re-frightened American public, there have been only 38 Americans killed inside the...
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015 - 11:15am
Your Business Been Hacked? Thanks NSA!
It appears that the NSA (“or someone”) hacked into the code of a popular firewall and planted a password in there that would allow them access as needed. That means the NSA (“or someone”) would be able to bypass the security features of a network and do what they wanted inside. This is basically an...
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Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - 8:45am
This Year’s Hottest Toy: Iraq-Syria LEGO Playset
Every Christmas sees one toy emerge as the most-wanted, gotta have gift — remember Tickle Me Elmo, and Beanie Babies from years past? Well, 2015’s big hit has emerged: The Iraq-Syria LEGO Playset. The set retails for three trillion dollars, though the price may have doubled by the time this is...
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Monday, December 14, 2015 - 2:15pm
Goodnight American Dream: The Middle Class Is Now a Minority
The middle class, which for 40 years has represented a majority of the country in practice, and formed the foundational belief in what has been known as the “American Dream,” is now just half the United States, according to a new report . Over at least the last four decades, productivity gains have...
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Thursday, December 10, 2015 - 11:00am
Washington to Whomever: Please Fight the Islamic State for Us
In the many strategies proposed to defeat the Islamic State (IS) by presidential candidates, policymakers, and media pundits alike across the American political spectrum, one common element stands out: someone else should really do it. The United States will send in planes, advisers, and special...
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