Examples of Brinkley's Work in Iraq

Select Your Language

While not the main issue, Brinkley’s War Front To Store Front (2014, Turner Publishing Company/Wiley General Trade) touches on several issues, such as how America’s foreign policy could change to be more effective, what it is like to work for high ranking officials with differing personalities, and streamlining business models in the Pentagon.

But I will focus on the portions of his book that illustrate the practicality of my mission— enrolling persons (within and without 3rd world countries) of power and influence to assist entrepreneurs in 3rd word countries to build and rebuild their economies so they can achieve prosperity for their people. I want every country to develop a vigorous economy. After reading Brinkley I know it is possible. IF the “powers that be” want it, each, or at least most every, country having a strong economy is a possibility. If teams of “Brinkley-like” people were turned loose in every 3rd world country, economic mountains would move!

He did his work in a war zone but it could be done with fewer obstacles if done in a country not at war. In Brinkley’s case, people with power and money wanted it to happen. Here is a basic facts of life on. For something of enormity to get done it will require at least partial support from people with power and money. But the initial group of people who kick this off in their country will not find support hard to find— if they can show the powers that be how they will benefit from the economic building and rebuilding.

I quote almost two paragraphs from the dust cover of War Front To Store Front ( Brinkley, Paul).

“The dramatic inside story of America’s efforts to rebuild economies in the face of violence and terror, as told first hand by former Deputy under Secretary of Defense Paul Brinkley. As the top-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Defense in charge of economic rebuilding, Brinkley and hundreds of business volunteers struggled against bureaucratic policies to revolutionize foreign aid by leveraging America’s strength—its private sector. Demonstrating success in the midst of failure, they created hundreds of thousands of jobs in areas written off by bureaucracy as hopeless.”

Still quoting from the dust cover:

“Reporting directly to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Brinkley spent five years overseeing economic improvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lessons learned were extended into the war-torn nations of Pakistan, Rwanda, and Sudan. Brinkley, who worked for both George W. Bush and Barack Obama …”

Here is what Brinkley and associates did in Iraq. I give 10 examples of practical projects or at least, lessons learned.

AGRICULTURAL PROJECTS The task force worked with agricultural colleges in Ramadi, Najaf, Basra, and Baghdad to provide textbooks and modernize the curriculum—water management to soil science. They saw to the completion of fish farms, farmers markets, produce-processing operations and farm improvement projects. (Brinkley, 162)

GREENHOUSE INDUSTRY Learning that some farmers wanted to expand their growing season by use of green houses, the task force invested “… in metal-bending equipment …raw material… established an industrial-sized greenhouse manufacturing operation…” (Brinkley, 163) By agreement, they gave them at no charge to the local jurisdiction, who in turn sold them at half of cost to farmers who bought the greenhouses on three year payment plan. “Today, hundreds of industrial greenhouses fill the desert, and an entire vegetable cultivation industry has emerged in Karbala, creating economic opportunity for thousands of farmers, handlers, and distributors…” (Brinkley, 164) Karbala was historically hostile to America, but much less so after this.

FACTORIES The task force made a strong eff ort to restart factories earlier idled by misguided policy of the U. S. state department. These were large and small and ranged from a fertilizer plant to a machinery manufacturing factory. As these industrial operations were reopened, thousands of Iraqi’s went back to work, not on temporary construction jobs or jobs carrying guns with security operations—they were real jobs. (Brinkley, 129-130)

BANKING “For Iraq to take its place in the global economy… [needed to] … move away from a cash-based transaction environment to an automated modern banking infrastructure…. The idea was to require Iraqi companies, once they were awarded a contract from the United States … to open an account with one of the new private banks… emerging around Iraq…this stimulated the growth and capitalization of the private banking sector… and eliminated the distribution of cash for payments.” (Brinkley, 118) Loss by theft went down and bank liquidity went up! This fostered the electronic transfer of funds to international standards. This new private bank liquidity In turn paved the way for Iraqi banks to grant loans and enter into relationship with the international banking community. (Brinkley 119)

NEW MARKETS It was obvious that factories they restarted “… could not survive if it did not develop its own markets. Our goal was to get production running again in Iraqi factories, and then to get outsiders interested in using the production capacity to build products for sale in Iraq and internationally.” (Brinkley 115) Several “…worked … around the clock to find creative ways to generate demand for factories throughout Iraq. … was remarkably effective at getting international companies to engage. His greatest success was the reengagement of Daimler Benz.” (Brinkley, 116)

STEEL, INTERNATIONAL The reader may wish to read the fascinating account of how a win-win agreement in steel, stimulated by the task force, resulted to the mutual benefit of Iraq and South Korea. (Brinkley, 185, 187)

PAIRING 1ST & 3RD WORLD BUSINESSES Brinkley aptly observes “It was also apparent that our approach to economic development, with highly tactical focus on business-to-business engagement and connecting international companies to struggling countries, was not needed just in post conflict environments, and that the gap we were filling in Iraq existed throughout the developing world.” (Brinkley, 205)

UNDERSTAND BEFORE JUMPING IN When invited to extend their work to Afghanistan, Brinkley insisted on 3 months to quietly study and prepare a report on what experts in agriculture, industry and natural resources found—then they could “develop an understanding of opportunities for economic development across the country.” (Brinkley 209)

FOCUS ON LOCAL NEED His team learned that you have to focus on what the locals value. Previous aid eff orts in Afghanistan had often been on commodities like fruit and nuts. But most Afghans were working in grains, oilseeds and livestock. “Failure to invest in these areas meant that most Afghans experienced little or no daily impact of the international presence on their economic well-being.” (Brinkley, 223)

MONEY WASTED He observed that USAID spent a lot of money on advisory staff and contractors, most often congregated in Kabul, and that many international relief agencies were “… spending hundreds of millions of dollar a year on human rights, education, ministerial support, and rule-of-law advisory services. While these programs were noble in their intent … the results of the investments were hard to see.” (Brinkley 223)

FIELD TO GLOBAL MARKET In Lahore they made a coordinated eff ort in textiles. Agricultural experts worked to improve co???? on yields and update irrigation technology. Relatedly, a manufacturing team worked with the textile factories to improve efficiency so they could be more competitive in price. “Finally , a textile-marketing eff ort would be launched to provide … company sales personnel with strategies for competing for American and European clothing, including how to better market to young female clothing buyers who were inundated with options for supply in the competitive global marketplace…” (Brinkley 240)

The above examples give the reader a small taste of what Brinkley and his many helpers did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Get Brinkley’s book and read it. It is informative and his writing holds your attention. His book will take you behind the scenes and show the operative relation between people, money, and project completion.