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In-depth Interview: State Dept. Veteran Peter Van Buren Says Restructuring Is Needed at Foggy Bottom

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Peter Van Buren spent 24 years at the US State Department.  While he doesn’t think Rex Tillerson will make the right changes, Van Buren says change is long overdue.In this conversation, Van Buren expands on a recent opinion piece he wrote for Reuters, where he uses the musical “Hamilton” as a framing device. “The ten-dollar Founding Father without a father got a lot farther by working a lot harder, by being a lot smarter, by being a self-starter”.

Van Buren says that the institution he devoted his career to is way too passive, and explains that information and analysis is so filtered before it reaches the top echelon that it ends up reflecting the known views of decision makers.

He offers a candid review of the failures of State in recent decades, and downplays some of the recent reporting of impending calamity.  While he has little confidence in Rexxon Tillerson (T.Rex is his nickname at State), he makes a strong case for change.

We also touch on the Trump/Russia scandal, and get Van Buren’s views on the chemical incident in Syria on April 4.

And, we recorded a separate interview about Van Buren’s powerful new novel, Hooper’s War, which will be released on May 16.