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

Views
Thursday, March 07, 2013
Mission Unaccomplished: Why the Invasion of Iraq Was the Single Worst Foreign Policy Decision in American History
I was there. And “there” was nowhere. And nowhere was the place to be if you wanted to see the signs of end times for the American Empire up close. It was the place to be if you wanted to see the madness -- and oh yes, it was madness -- not filtered through a complacent and sleepy media that made Washington’s war policy seem, if not sensible, at least sane and serious enough.
Read more
Views
Monday, February 25, 2013
We are All Bradley Manning: 1000 Days in Jail without a Conviction
Bradley Manning, the young army private who allegedly disclosed the Wikileaks files, must be given a fair, open and speedy trial. He has been held over three years, often in solitary and inhumane conditions. He has been convicted of no crime. This is simply and self-evidently wrong.
Read more
Views
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Torture: An All-American Nightmare
If you look backward you see a nightmare. If you look forward you become the nightmare.
Read more
Views
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell: Six Critical Foreign Policy Questions You Won't Hear Debated
We had a debate club back in high school. Two teams would meet in the auditorium, and Mr. Garrity would tell us the topic, something 1970s-ish like “Resolved: Women Should Get Equal Pay for Equal Work” or “World Communism Will Be Defeated in Vietnam.” Each side would then try, through persuasion and the marshalling of facts, to clinch the argument.
Read more
Views
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
The Persecution of John Kiriakou: Torture and the Myth of 'Never Again'
[ Note to Readers: The District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia will begin Classified Information Procedures Act hearings in the case of John Kiriakou today , September 12. These hearings, which are closed to the public, will last until October 30 and will determine what classified information will be permitted during trial.
Read more
Views
Thursday, August 16, 2012
How Not to Reconstruct Iraq, Afghanistan, or America: A Guide to Disaster at Home and Abroad
Some images remain like scars on my memory. One of the last things I saw in Iraq, where I spent a year with the Department of State helping squander some of the $44 billion American taxpayers put up to “reconstruct” that country, were horses living semi-wild among the muck and garbage of Baghdad. Those horses had once raced for Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein and seven years after their “liberation” by the American invasion of 2003, they were still wandering that unraveling, unreconstructed urban landscape looking, like many other Iraqis, for food.
Read more
Views
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The Ultimate No-Fly List: Obama's Secrecy Problem
White is black and down is up. Leaks that favor the president are shoveled out regardless of national security, while national security is twisted to pummel leaks that do not favor him. Watching their boss, bureaucrats act on their own, freelancing the punishment of whistleblowers, knowing their retaliatory actions will be condoned.
Read more
Views
Monday, April 09, 2012
Left Behind: What We Lost in Iraq and Washington, 2009-2012
People ask the question in various ways, sometimes hesitantly, often via a long digression, but my answer is always the same: no regrets.
Read more
Views
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
The Day 'Due Process' Died: Obama, Holder and the End of Rights
Historians of the future, if they are not imprisoned for saying so, will trace the end of America's democratic experiment to the fearful days immediately after 9/11, what Bruce Springsteen called the days of the empty sky, when frightened, small men named Bush and Cheney made the first decisions to abandon the Constitution in the name of freedom and created a new version of the security state with the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, secret prisons and sanctioned torture by the U.S. government.
Read more
Views
Thursday, February 09, 2012
In Washington, Fear the Silence, Not the Noise
On January 23rd, the Obama administration charged former CIA officer John Kiriakou under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information to journalists about the waterboarding of al-Qaeda suspects. His is just the latest prosecution in an unprecedented assault on government whistleblowers and leakers of every sort.
Read more

Pages