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(42,064 posts)
2. It's all just a little bit of history repeating...
Tue Sep 19, 2023, 08:27 PM
Sep 2023
This little novice went to market . . . in Baghdad Jan 31, 2004

At Yale University, Jay Hallen majored in political science, rarely watched financial news channels and didn't follow the stockmarket.

All of which made the 24-year-old an unlikely pick for the difficult task of rebuilding Iraq's shattered stock exchange. But Hallen, a private-sector development officer for the United States-led Coalition Provisional Authority, was given the job immediately after arriving in Baghdad last September.

Hallen admits that he wound up in Iraq rather by accident. In 2002, he began pursuing a White House job and, though none materialised, he stayed in close contact with the man who interviewed him, Reuben Jeffrey. When Jeffrey went to Iraq last summer as a senior economic development adviser, Hallen emailed to ask whether there were any job openings. "Be careful what you wish for," Jeffrey, who is now an aide to Iraqi administrator Paul Bremer, told him in reply.

A few weeks later, Hallen got a phone call from a Pentagon personnel officer, who told him he had been given a job in the Coalition Provisional Authority starting in Baghdad in less than a month. "Needless to say, I was in a mild state of shock," he says.


In Iraq, the Job Opportunity of a Lifetime
By Ariana Eunjung ChaMay 23, 2004

When the U.S. government went looking for people to help rebuild Iraq, they had responded to the call. They supported the war effort and President Bush. Many had strong Republican credentials. They were in their twenties or early thirties and had no foreign service experience. On that first day, Oct. 1, they knew so little about how things worked that they waited hours at the airport for a ride that was never coming. They finally discovered the shuttle bus out of the airport but got off at the wrong stop.

They had been hired to perform a low-level task: collecting and organizing statistics, surveys and wish lists from the Iraqi ministries for a report that would be presented to potential donors at the end of the month. But as suicide bombs and rocket attacks became almost daily occurrences, more and more senior staffers defected. In short order, six of the new young hires found themselves managing the country's $13 billion budget, making decisions affecting millions of Iraqis.

Others from across the District responded affirmatively to the same e-mail, for different reasons. Andrew Burns, 23, a Red Cross volunteer who had taught English in rural China, felt going to Iraq would help him pursue a career in humanitarian aid. Todd Baldwin, 28, a legislative aide for Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), thought the opportunity was too good to pass up. John Hanley, 24, a Web site editor, wanted to break into the world of international relations. Anita Greco, 25, a former teacher, and Casey Wasson, 23, a recent college graduate in government, just needed jobs.

For months they wondered what they had in common, how their names had come to the attention of the Pentagon, until one day they figured it out: They had all posted their resumes at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank.


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