War Front to Store Front: Americans Rebuilding Trust and Hope in Nations Under Fire

War Front to Store Front: Americans Rebuilding Trust and Hope in Nations Under Fire

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by Paul Brinkley
     
 

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As the top-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Defense in charge of economic rebuilding, Brinkley and his organization of hundreds of business volunteers struggled against bureaucratic policies to revolutionize foreign aid by leveraging America's strength—its private sector. In doing so, his team demonstrated success in the midst of failure, and

Overview

As the top-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Defense in charge of economic rebuilding, Brinkley and his organization of hundreds of business volunteers struggled against bureaucratic policies to revolutionize foreign aid by leveraging America's strength—its private sector. In doing so, his team demonstrated success in the midst of failure, and created hundreds of thousands of jobs in areas long written off by the civilian bureaucracy as hopeless.

 

Reporting directly to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Brinkley spent five years overseeing economic improvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lessons learned in these two nations were soon extended into the war-torn nations of Pakistan, Rwanda, and Sudan.

 

Brinkley, who worked under both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama Administrations, reveals why American foreign policy has left these nations in the Middle East and Africa disappointed, resentful, and suspicious of American intentions. Optimistic that America can deliver on its economic promise, Brinkley outlines in War Front to Store Front the necessary changes in U.S. foreign policy if we want to rebuild and revitalize an economy under fire. 

 

This engaging account details:

 

  • Fascinating insights of the inner workings of American government and its largest bureaucracy—the U.S. Department of Defense
  • Vivid descriptions of a group of business leaders who sought to change how the Pentagon did business, and who wound up in a war zone, including a firsthand experience of a terrorist attack
  • Detailed account of the American business model for foreign development that can improve the lives of war-ravaged citizens, at far less cost than existing military and foreign aid programs
  • Insights into the transition of the Bush Administration to the Obama Administration, and its impact on foreign policy
  • Inside details on the real business climate in Iraq, before and after Saddam Hussein, as well as its political landscape
  • Detailed analysis of the future of Afghanistan, economically and politically, and how its democratic institutions struggle to gain a foothold
  • Comprehensive map to connect Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to the global economy, creating opportunity and reducing anti-Americanism
  • Thorough breakdown of lessons learned in the Middle East and U.S. efforts to translate them to African nations, including Rwanda and Sudan

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Paul Brinkley helped engineer one of the few success stories in America’s occupation of Iraq. He built on that success in Afghanistan and now has reflected on both experiences—and more—in this intelligent, interesting, and important book.” —Fareed Zakaria
 

"America's military and civilian leaders agree—our country's national security challenges and geopolitical objectives cannot be achieved by firepower or diplomacy alone. Economic progress, jobs, and opportunity are indispensable to winning the peace and securing our nation. Understanding this reality and driven by a passion to serve, Paul Brinkley and his colleagues took great personal, career, and financial risks to help a war-torn country build a modern economy.
      "Brinkley tells a compelling, page-turning story. But it's no fairy tale. Readers will share not only the vision and the importance of the cause, but also the many frustrations and roadblocks experienced along the way. This is an important book—there is much here that inspires, but also many important lessons and insights that Americans and their government need to learn and heed." —Thomas J. Donohue, President & CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
 

"Paul Brinkley has written a compelling narrative about igniting economies through business creation in Iraq and Afghanistan in a war zone for two presidents. The story of his heroic team of American citizens serving in harm's way is a heartwarming and heartbreaking page-turner." —Michael Mullen, ADM, USN (retired), 17th Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff

"Paul Brinkley captures America's experience in Afghanistan and Iraq beyond the obvious. His fascinating narrative describes a gordian knot of politics, personalities, culture, and economic realities that confronted, and often confounded, the best of intentions. A must-read for engagement in the modern world." —Stanley McChrystal, GEN, USA (retired), Commander, International Security Assistance Force - Afghanistan, 2009-2010

"Paul Brinkley’s War Front to Store Front is a very personal portrayal of his tireless commitment to supporting U.S. efforts to bring peace and stability to Iraq and Afghanistan. Through his leadership at the Defense Department, Paul was able to improve the lives of countless Iraqis and Afghans, providing them greater stability, employment, and economic security, along with the hope that their lives would improve. Paul’s account provides solutions for overcoming Washington’s bureaucratic obstacles, and moving post-war economies toward more effective reconstruction." —Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO, Howard G. Buffett Foundation
 

War Front to Store Front is two intertwined tales: one, a fascinating account of how U.S. businesses can play a new and crucial role in stabilizing America’s overseas conflict zones, and another, a rollicking yarn about Brinkley’s team of young Americans dodging bullets and bomb blasts to accomplish their unique mission from the Tigris River to the Hindu Kush. A terrific read!” —Milt Bearden, former CIA Station Chief, author of The Black Tulip, and co-author with James Risen of The Main Enemy

“This is an important book. Not only does Paul Brinkley capture the bureaucratic impediments to effective civil-military efforts in conflict zones, he also demonstrates how we can become more effective in development and stability missions. The lessons are not theoretical—they are practical and the author and his team demonstrated how to apply an entrepreneurial approach to difficult problems." —H. R. McMaster, MG, USA, author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam

"Paul Brinkley’s commonsense approach to rebuilding Iraqi business and industry to provide jobs, incomes, and goods to meet the country’s needs, and to drain insurgencies of manpower and motive, is one of the most significant civilian efforts ever undertaken during warfare. Mr. Brinkley’s brave and relentless engagement of U.S. military and civilian leaders and of Iraqis and Afghans at every level of government and industry—from farms, villages, and the front lines of battle to the U.S. Capitol, give him a breadth of knowledge and perspective like no leader in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom/Afghanistan. His is an essential record to be read, debated, and relied upon by military and development specialists for decades to come." —Edwin Price, Professor of Agriculture and Founding Director of Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, Texas A&M University

“Paul Brinkley provides a compelling and highly readable assessment of Afghanistan from an economic and a political perspective, and America’s shortcomings in trying to build a stable Afghan state, based on his experiences throughout the country. I highly recommend this to policymakers as the transition of Afghanistan from military engagement to long-term development takes place in the next several years.” —Daud Saba, Ph.D., Governor, Herat Province, Afghanistan

"This is an important book. Not only does Paul Brinkley capture the bureaucratic impediments to effective civil-military efforts in conflict zones, he also demonstrates how we can become more effective in development and stability missions. The lessons are not theoretical; they are practical, and the author and his team have demonstrated how to apply an entrepreneurial approach to difficult problems." —Major General H.R. McMaster, U.S. Army, author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781118284094
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
02/18/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

The decade-anniversary Iraq war dialogue paid little attention to the failure of our civilian government institutions to generate positive benefit from foreign aid spending on economic development. Significant focus was placed on the failures of early military strategy after initial combat operations, the lack of sustained security in post-combat Iraq and Afghanistan. On religious sectarian causes of conflict. On ethnic causes of conflict. On failed leadership by newly elected government officials struggling to implement democracy in broken, war-ravaged societies.   

But little to no emphasis is placed on the impact of our civilian foreign aid institutions, the organizations dedicated to establishing the basis for a better life once the bullets stop flying. The effect of these institutions on the lack of success of these critical national security missions has largely been subsumed in the rush to associate failure with security, ethnic, and religious causes.    

While we may hold our civilian bureaucracy in contempt here at home, we have had no problem continually channeling billions of dollars to civilian bureaucracies working overseas to provide post-conflict economic development. Just as at home, those civilian institutions have not succeeded in their missions – leaving military force as the only effective tool of foreign policy, with an outcome of lost American lives, broken societies with disaffected embittered populations, and untold financial debt that will burden future generations for years to come.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

This is the unlikely story of a group of business leaders who encountered the civilian federal bureaucracy at war, and were asked to step in and reverse failed American post-combat economic policy in Iraq. First focused on restoring employment to Iraq’s workforce, and reducing the sympathies of everyday Iraqis with a growing insurgency and ever-increasing violence,  we encountered the bureaucracy at its most intransigent – at home and overseas – in a journey that would go on for five long years, and expand to encompass similar but unique efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, and Rwanda.

Reporting directly to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, this unorthodox organization of business volunteers would eventually include hundreds of men and women operating outside of the restrictive security imposed upon all other American civilian organizations, embedded with our military forces in areas of open armed conflict, and eventually independently working in conflict zones.   

Before our work would be complete, we would witness firsthand the horror of war, and the courage of our armed forces against near-impossible circumstances trying to restore stability to communities falling into open civil conflict among religious sects and tribes in the absence of hope for a better future, while our bureaucracy failed to provide needed civilian support.

Meet the Author

Paul A. Brinkley served five years as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense and director of the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, charged with the revitalizing the economies of Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the recipient of the Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Medal and the Secretary of Defense-Defense of Freedom Medal for injuries sustained in a car bomb attack in Baghdad in 2010. He has published articles in Newsweek and Military Review and has been profiled in Businessweek, Fortune, New York Times, Washington Post, Der Spiegel, and The Economist.

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War Front to Store Front: Americans Rebuilding Trust and Hope in Nations Under Fire 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read on how our government currently deals with helping foreign nations; discusses both strengths and opportunities
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read, combines a fast paced storyline with policy observations from a different perspective.  Unusual book with unusual insights, explains  why the past decade has been so frustrating to Americans and left the region less stable.