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, 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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Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 9:45am
"Why Don’t the Unemployed Get Off Their Couches?" and Eight Other Critical Questions for Americans
Last year eight Americans -- the four Waltons of Walmart fame, the two Koch brothers, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett -- made more money than 3.6 million American minimum-wage workers combined. The median pay for CEOs at America's large corporations rose to $10 million per year, while a typical...
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US Secretary of State John Kerry. (Screenshot) Views
Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 12:00pm
Kerry Tells Snowden to “Man Up” and Come Home
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who at this point has all the credibility of a minor Kardashian just out of rehab, somehow was allowed on national television to say this : If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States, we’ll have him on a flight today. [He] should stand up in the...
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(Public domain) Views
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 6:15am
Regime Change in America: This Land Isn’t Your Land, This Land Is Their Land
As America's new economy starts to look more like the old economy of the Great Depression, the divide between rich and poor, those who have made it and those who never will, seems to grow ever starker. I know. I’ve seen it firsthand. Once upon a time, I worked as a State Department officer, helping...
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(Image: Public domain) Views
Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 9:15am
I'm a Whistleblower: Want Fries with That?
There are many sides to whistleblowing. The one that most people don't know about is the very personal cost, prison aside , including the high cost of lawyers and the strain on family relations, that follows the decision to risk it all in an act of conscience. Here's a part of my own story I've not...
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(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Views
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 12:30pm
No-Fly-List America
Rahinah Ibrahim is a slight Malaysian woman who attended Stanford University on a U.S. student visa, majoring in architecture. She was not a political person. Despite this, as part of a post-9/11 sweep directed against Muslims, she was investigated by the FBI. In 2004, while she was still in the U...
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