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

Views
Monday, May 16, 2016 - 10:00am
The Snapchat Version of American Victory
One of the most popular apps these days is Snapchat. It allows the sender to set a timer for any photo dispatched via the app, so that a few seconds after the recipient opens the message, the photo is automatically deleted. The evidence of what you did at that party last night is seen and then...
Read more
Views
Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 9:15am
Another Way the Rich Get Richer: Their Parents Give Them Obscene Amounts of Money Nearly Tax-Free
It’d be great if we were all self-made men, like Citizen Trump. Of course, his self-making, like that of many wealthy people, is based in large part on a wealthy parent giving him a ton of money. Why work for a living when you can just hang around drinking single malt until daddy dies and leaves...
Read more
Views
Monday, May 9, 2016 - 1:45pm
For Upcoming Conventions, Secret Service Aims to Handcuff First Amendment
Thomas Jefferson said that an informed citizenry is critical to a democracy, and with that as a cornerstone the Founders wrote freedom of the press into the First Amendment to the Constitution. The most basic of ideas at play is that the government should in no way be allowed to control what...
Read more
Views
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 10:15am
Why Don’t the Candidates Talk About Afghanistan?
Heading into its sixteenth year, with no endpoint in sight, America’s longest war is its least talked about. Afghanistan has not come up in any Republican or Democratic debate, except perhaps as one of a list of countries where Islamic State must be destroyed (left out is the reality that no...
Read more
Views
Friday, April 8, 2016 - 10:15am
‘Please Do Not Feed the Animals’: Oklahoma GOP Compares Food Stamp Recipients to Park Animals
In America, we have a very crude understanding of social welfare programs. For most Americans, anything the government gives to its people (i.e., us) to keep us healthy, fed and educated, is a “handout” to lazy people who don’t deserve it. Helping each other, using our tax money for us, as does...
Read more
Views
Sunday, April 3, 2016 - 2:45pm
Iraq is Broke. You Have to Pay for It.
The next time a candidate or reporter asks during a debate about education or healthcare “But how are you going to pay for that?” I would like the person being questioned to respond “The same way we find money to pay for Iraq.” So maybe it would just be better for Flint, Michigan to claim it is...
Read more
Views
Monday, March 28, 2016 - 2:00pm
The Obama Doctrine: The Audacity of Ignorance
Think what it must be like to be one of America’s allies. You enjoy some trade, watch Beyonce and Brad Pitt at the movies, and visit Disneyland on holiday. But then there’s America again at your cubicle, asking again that you join some coalition, get some troops into another wacky American overseas...
Read more
Views
Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 10:15am
Is America Exceptional, or Only Great?
The nuances of foreign policy do not feature heavily in the ongoing presidential campaign. Every candidate intends to “destroy” the Islamic State; each has concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korea, and China; every one of them will defend Israel; and no one wants to talk much...
Read more
Views
Friday, March 11, 2016 - 8:30am
FBI and Access to NSA Data on Americans
Hear that hissing sound? That is the last gasps for air from the Bill of Rights. The Bill is one breath away from hell. The FBI has quietly revised its rules for searching data involving Americans’ communications collected by the National Security Agency. The classified revisions were accepted by...
Read more
Views
Saturday, February 27, 2016 - 9:00am
Texas Academics Told to Avoid ‘Sensitive Topics’ to Prevent Angering Armed Students
Here’s another swanky benefit of our out-of-control gun culture: university professors should be aware that their students might shoot them. The Texas state legislature voted last year to allow students to carry concealed handguns into classrooms, dorms, just about anywhere on campus, a practice...
Read more

Pages