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Why Don't the Candidates Talk About Afghanistan?

Peter Van Buren | Posted 04.12.2016 | Politics
Peter Van Buren

Heading into its sixteenth year, with no endpoint in sight, America's longest war is its least talked about. Afghanistan has not come up in any Repu...

Book Review: Youngblood

Peter Van Buren | Posted 01.25.2017 | Books
Peter Van Buren

Youngblood, a new novel by Matt Gallagher set in the late stages of the Iraq War, is a powerful fiction debut from an author already known for his non...

On the Death of Anne Smedinghoff, Three U.S. Soldiers and an Interpreter

Peter Van Buren | Posted 06.28.2014 | Politics
Peter Van Buren

How did the Afghan kids who were to receive books from Anne and the Afghan kids who were blown up by NATO that same day differ? Just an accident of location. Everyone was a victim.

How Many Afghan Hearts and Minds Do You Win When a School Collapses?

Peter Van Buren | Posted 08.26.2013 | Politics
Peter Van Buren

One (of thousands) example of how we lost the war for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people was our shoddy management of the things we built. We're repeating those same mistakes in Afghanistan, this time with potentially fatal results.

Do We Need an Office of Contingency Operations for Future Reconstruction?

Peter Van Buren | Posted 08.04.2013 | Politics
Peter Van Buren

The oft-repeated pop psychology definition of mental illness -- doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results -- pretty much sums up America's limp efforts at reconstruction, nation building, hearts and minds, counterinsurgency, whatever tag you choose.

Review: Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails

Peter Van Buren | Posted 07.21.2013 | Books
Peter Van Buren

Coyne's book is a careful, detailed, academic answer to the real-world question surrounding U.S. reconstruction efforts: How is it possible that well-funded, expertly staffed and, at least rhetorically, well-intentioned humanitarian actions fail, often serially, as in Afghanistan?

Music to Our Ears: Failing in Afghanistan as We Did in Iraq

Peter Van Buren | Posted 04.05.2013 | Politics
Peter Van Buren

Kids and music go together beautifully. Free from pretensions, children play from their hearts. Put that beauty into an international setting -- in th...

State Department Fixing the Facts Based on Policy in Iraq

Peter Van Buren | Posted 01.22.2012 | Politics
Peter Van Buren

The State Department can often times be so inward looking that it fixes the facts based on the policy need, making reality fit the vision whether that naughty reality wants to or not. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it can be tragic.