Peter is a retired United States Foreign Service Officer who served in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the UK, and Hong Kong. He also served on two Provincial Reconstruction Teams for the U.S. government in Iraq, after which he wrote the book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, in 2012. After the release of the book, the Department of State began legal proceedings against him, falsely claiming it revealed classified material. Through the efforts of the ACLU, Van Buren instead retired from the State Department with his First Amendment rights intact.
His second book, Ghosts of Tom Joad, A Story of the #99Percent (2014), is a novel about the social and economic changes in America after WWII and the decline of the blue collar middle class in the 1980s. In 2017 he published Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan.
Peter is a regular contributor to The American Conservative magazine and has appeared on the BBC World Service, NPR’s All Things Considered and Fresh Air, CurrentTV, HuffPo Live, Tucker Carlson Tonight, Intercepted, and other media outlets.