Peter Van Buren

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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Monday, March 28, 2016
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...
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Thursday, March 17, 2016
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...
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Friday, March 11, 2016
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...
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Saturday, February 27, 2016
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...
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Monday, February 22, 2016
San Bernardino Shooter’s Apple Password Changed While in Government Possession
They lie like a rug. In an attempt to convince Americans that having encryption and password-beating backdoors installed on their electronics so the government can snoop, the FBI first claimed the evil ISIS terrorists who shot up San Bernardino found a way to “beat” all of the resources of the NSA...
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Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Minimum Wage, Minimum Chance: On Being Nickel and Dimed in 2016
When presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talks about income inequality, and when other candidates speak about the minimum wage and food stamps, what are they really talking about? Whether they know it or not, it’s something like this. My Working Life Then A few years ago, I wrote about my...
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Tuesday, February 02, 2016
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
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
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
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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