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, January 11, 2016
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 02, 2016
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
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
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
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
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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Friday, December 04, 2015
Guns and Deaths: We Really Don’t Care, Do We?
More than one a day. That is how often mass shootings (four or more people wounded or dead) occurred in the United States this year. Including the worst shooting of the year (so far), which unfolded only yesterday in San Bernardino, a total of 462 people have died and 1,314 have been wounded in...
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Thursday, December 03, 2015
After 13 Years in Gitmo, Pentagon Says Detainee is Case of ‘Mistaken Identity’'
Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri was captured in 2002 and believed then to be a major al Qaeda facilitator or courier, or maybe a trainer, according to the Department of Defense. He was interrogated “vigorously” and when he did not admit to those activities and did not supply detailed,...
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Syria: What Would Boots on the Ground Look Like?
Pressure on the White House to escalate the Syria/Iraq war has no doubt intensified post-Paris. Should Islamic State take things further and strike an American civilian target, President Barack Obama would be all but forced to “do something.” What would that “something” likely look like, and what...
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Saturday, November 21, 2015
US Special Forces in Combat: Nothing New for Iraq and Syria?
The United States recently unveiled a new approach in Iraq and Syria it insists is not new at all: Special Forces will be sent into direct combat. “The fact is that our strategy… hasn’t changed,” Josh Earnest , the White House press secretary, said. “This is an intensification of a strategy that...
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