Monday, May 14, 2007

One Man's Bureaucratic War in Iraq

A Department of Defense official in Iraq is engaged in a bureaucratic battle with the State Department over his initiative to re-open some Iraqi state-owned firms.

The DOD official, Paul Brinkley, figures that putting thousands of people back to work will help keep chronically disaffected people from joining the insurgency.

But the State Department -- with help from the CIA -- is saying the jobs issue is not a driver of the violence there.

Embassy officials warned Brinkley that if he opened factories in Sunni areas first, he risked angering Shiites. Moreover, the electricity needed by production lines would mean less for residences. Would people really be happier, embassy officials asked, if they had jobs but less power at home?

The embassy's in-house think tank, the Joint Strategic Planning and Assessment Office, also joined the fray, issuing an internal memorandum declaring that "trying to give these enterprises a new lease on life will make Iraqis poorer without reducing the violence." The memo, written by an economist from the Rand Corp. working on contract for the embassy, added that "resuscitating state-owned enterprises is a bad idea."

State asked the CIA to assess the link between employment and attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, two U.S. government officials said. The CIA's subsequent regression analysis found no statistically significant tie between the two phenomena, the officials said. The CIA also told State that the vast majority of insurgents questioned by U.S. interrogators in Iraq claimed to be employed, one official said.

Brinkley said he felt stung by the opposition, but he took heart from the support of England and other Pentagon officials. He also countered with an analysis from the military's Joint Warfare Analysis Center, which asserted that a slight increase in job satisfaction among Iraqis led to as much as a 30 percent decline in attacks on coalition forces, according to a U.S. official familiar with its contents who supports Brinkley's efforts.

Embassy opposition was not Brinkley's only problem. His plan to have Iraq's Finance Ministry pay for repairs at the factories ran counter to Bremer's edict, issued in 2004, that prevents the Iraqi Central Bank from funding state-owned enterprises. Brinkley arranged for two Iraqi banks to provide $5.6 million in loans to six factories, and he plans to announce a second round of loans totaling about $20 million.

3 Comments:

Blogger Meatball One said...

Well maybe Brinkley has a good office coffee brewer. I hope he's got at least that going for him.

5/14/2007 8:43 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

M1:

Hopefully he has what he needs.

But I have a feeling that the Embassy would prefer he enjoy his morning coffee at one of Baghdad's fine coffee shops.

5/15/2007 11:17 AM  
Anonymous M3 said...

ye chuckle inducing Effwit

5/15/2007 12:21 PM  

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