His name is Paul A. Brinkley and he’s basically America’s Big Business chaperone in Afghanistan.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Brinkley has ushered execs from JPMorgan, IBM, and a whole host of American corporate giants into the war-torn country to begin business.
He did the same thing in Iraq, and now the government wants him to do it in Kabul too.
He is part of a 75-person Department of Defence (DOD) team with a $150 million annual budget from the Pentagon.
Banks like JPMorgan want to be in Iraq because of a mine that’s located between Kabul and Herat.
JPMorgan, for example, capitalised on their knowledge of Afghanistan’s natural resources from its mining clients in the former USSR and told Brinkley about some of the facts in 2008, according to Businessweek. They then spent two more years collecting more information, which they then showed to both David Petraeus and defence Secretary Robert Gates. And the mining project got its go ahead late last year.
The JPMorgan managing director who arranged the deal is super-proud of the bank’s entry into Afghanistan. He said: “Capitalism is like a good virus. You’ll be amazed how quickly people turn up once someone has success.”
Brinkley is basically like the CEO of the “unofficial Afghanistan chamber of commerce” and has accompanied execs from JPMorgan and a host of Silicon Valley firms around the country, thinking of himself as “a matchmaker, negotiating high-stakes unions between multinational companies… and Afghan officials and entrepreneurs.” He even compared his job to eHarmony, the dating website.
Here’s some details about him:
- He’s agnostic.
- A Der Spiegel article said of his appearance and being scarily temperamental: “It is not hard to imagine him later in life looking like an elderly Orson Welles: beefy, portly and positively demonic when he’s in a bad mood.”
- He’s responsible for getting GE and Honeywell into Iraq.
- In meetings, he “listens more than he speaks, usually making introductions and then retreating with a self-effacing remark.”
- Before he landed at DOD, Brinkley was a senior exec at a number of tech outfits. His last job before DOD was as CIO at San Jose-based JDS Uniphase, a communications tech firm. Before that he worked for Nortel.
- He has a BA and MS in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University. He began a PhD too…
- In 2007 he was accused of “mismanaging government money and engaging in public drunkenness and sexual harassment” in Iraq.
- Here’s an OpEd he wrote for Newsweek about the importance of foreign investment in Iraq.
- He has a wife and 2 kids.
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