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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Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Stopping ISIS: Follow the Money
Wars are expensive. The recruitment and sustainment of fighters in the field, the ongoing purchases of weapons and munitions, as well as the myriad other costs of struggle, add up. So why isn’t the United States going after Islamic State’s funding sources as a way of lessening or eliminating their...
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Sunday, November 15, 2015
Paris: You Don’t Want to Read This
You don’t want to read this, and I take no pleasure in writing it, and no one really wants to hear it right now. But I believe it needs to be said. I join the world in grieving for the dead in Paris. I have grieved for the dead from 9/11 forward — the Australians who died in terror attacks on Bali...
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Friday, October 30, 2015
Tell Us Why We’re At War in Iraq Again, Mr. President
When I was a kid, three presidents told us we had to fight in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, because if we didn’t fight them over there, we’d have to fight them on the beaches of California. We believed. It was a lie. I was a teenager during the Cold War, and several presidents told us we needed to...
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015
About That Delta Force Guy Killed in Iraq…
( Editor's note: When Van Buren wrote this article, he predicted Washington would use the death of Sergeant Joshua Wheeler as a propaganda tool to enable greater U.S. involvement in the Iraq/Syria war. Sad to say, it took less than 24 hours for Van Buren's prediction to come true, as Secretary of...
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Friday, October 23, 2015
What If They Gave a War and Everyone Came?
What if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq in 2003? How would things be different in the Middle East today? Was Iraq, in the words of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the " worst foreign policy blunder " in American history? Let's take a big-picture tour of the Middle East and try to answer those...
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Thursday, October 22, 2015
America’s Civilian Killings Are No Accident
America and its allies make modern war in a way that assures “mistakes” destroy hospitals, and civilian lives are taken by drones. These horrors are all too often strategic decisions, or the result of the profligate use of needlessly destructive weapons. They are typically far from accidents. The...
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Post-Constitutional America: What We’ve Lost Since 9/11
Ed Snowden is right. We have lost too many of our freedoms. What the hell happened? The United States has entered its third great era is what happened. The first, starting from the colonists’ arrival, saw the principles of the Enlightenment used to push back the abuses of an imperial government and...
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015
The Balance of Power in the Middle East Just Changed
Don't sweat the details of the July nuclear accord between the United States and Iran. What matters is that the calculus of power in the Middle East just changed in significant ways. Washington and Tehran announced their nuclear agreement on July 14th and yes, some of the details are still...
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Sunday, June 28, 2015
Five Things That Won't Work in Iraq
In one form or another, the U.S. has been at war with Iraq since 1990, including a sort-of invasion in 1991 and a full-scale one in 2003. During that quarter-century, Washington imposed several changes of government, spent trillions of dollars, and was involved in the deaths of hundreds of...
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Thursday, June 25, 2015
What If There Is No Plan B for Iraq?
In one form or another, the U.S. has been at war with Iraq since 1990, including a sort-of invasion in 1991 and a full-scale one in 2003. During that quarter-century, Washington imposed several changes of government, spent trillions of dollars, and was involved in the deaths of hundreds of...
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