On the way home from work, one day last week, I heard
some excerpts from the book, Imperial
Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone,
by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. (Chandrasekaran also has some articles in the
Washington Post, here: 1
It’s a book about some of the follies and escapades of the
Coalition Provisional Authority during the early part of the military
occupation of Iraq.
One of the characters they mentioned was James Haveman. That
is a name I recognized, so I started paying attention.
At the NPR site, there is a bit about James
(PDF bio). Mr. Haveman was the
director of the Department of Mental Health from 1991 to 1996; from
1996 to 2003, he was the director of the Department of Community
Health. He oversaw the transition to managed Medicaid, and
implementation of a restricted formulary. Those were changes
were necessary, and did not have to be bad. However, they
badly implemented. I moonlighted at a community mental health
agency at the time, so I was in a position to see the problems as they
unfolded. As a person who follows Michigan
politics, I wanted to know what happened to Haveman.
In 2003, Haveman was recommended by Michigan’s former Governor to be
director for reconstruction of the Iraq health care system.
excerpt from the book is fairly critical, although I can’t say if it
gives a balanced perspective.
have cited Haveman’s appointment as an example of cronyism, alleging
that such political
appointments were a major reason for the failure of the reconstruction
efforts. That is a good point, but it is not the point I am
making today. I just want to know what ever happened to the
Any Internet search engine will turn up many hits on his name.
But until the book came out, there was very little after
2005. That is despite the fact that his company, the Haveman
Group, still has a website. Among the services offered by the
Haveman Group is “website construction.” So you’d think
have a big web footprint. Not so. Curiously, there
versions of the site. The original is here.
The new one is here.
The new one is flashier (literally) but has exactly the same
content as the old one. It does not mention anything the
group has actually done.
Until the recent flurry about the book, two of the most recent
mentions occur on the Calvin College site. Haveman
from Calvin in 1966, and was on campus on September 22, 2004, to give a
lecture. There are two accounts that I could find.
PDF, is here.
…The flood of satellite dishes into the country,
non-restricted travel, as well as press and internet-access have
enabled the Iraqi people to enjoy diversity of opinion and gain
knowledge of the world beyond Iraq. According to Haveman,
new openness and awareness of the world around them explains most of
the destruction of the cities during the invasion: it resulted from
looting by people who were angry because “they could now see
the rest of the world ha[d].” …
…According to Haveman, the Iraqis knew that Saddam had weapons of
mass destruction. However, they prefer to now focus on the fact that
the dictatorship is over, moving forward with reconstruction of the
The account from the student newspaper, The Chimes,
includes these statements:
…With regard to weapons of mass destruction,
that “it’s not a big deal to them [the Iraqis]
know they’re there…
…Hussein hanged 7,200 of his own people each day since 1979, but the
slanted news coverage never allowed Americans to know that. Anti-U.S.
protests are often orchestrated and represent the sentiment of a small
number of Iraqis. The Iraqi people “couldn’t
spent months on Abu Ghraib; just apologize and move on,”
said was their attitude…
Numbers always get my attention, especially if there is a little math
to do. Let’s see: 7,200 people hanged every day,
period of 23 years. That would be 60,444,000 people hanged
(That’s a conservative number; I did not count leap years.)
The population of Iraq now is about 26,075,000 (after the sixty million
hangings). No wonder the guy
is on trial: he hanged 70% of the population!
Maybe that is nitpicking. Maybe he misspoke, or maybe he was
misquoted. Maybe the reporter who wrote about the satellite
dishes got it wrong. Maybe he did not really say that the
of satellite dishes was responsible for most of the destruction during
the invasion. If he did say those things, though,
woudn’t blame him for ducking from public attention now.
There is a report
that he gave a similar lecture to a hospital in Colorado, but there is
no mention of what he said.
The most recent web mention is from January 2005. It is an account
of the awarding of the Department of Defense
Medal for Distinguished Public Service, given to Haveman by Rumsfeld in
a Pentagon ceremony.
Not everyone is critical about the Haveman story. On Townhall.com,
Rich Galen has this to say:
Haveman is portrayed as a religious zealot unwilling
talk with, or listen to anyone. As I remember the story, Jim Haveman
was so unqualified that the Health Ministry was the first Ministry to
be ready to be handed back to full Iraqi control. In fact, Haveman was
required to delay the hand-over to allow some other Ministries to catch
The Coalition Provisional Authority prepared a
report on the status of the reconstruction, in June 2004.
In it, they mention:
country is at pre-war capabilities for providing health care – 240
Iraqi hospitals and more than 1,200 primary health centers are
I don’t know about that. They do cite a number of glowing
statistics, which look good in the context in which they are presented.
But is is hard to believe that the Health Ministry in Iraq is
back to its pre-war capabilities. Perhaps it was the first
Ministry that was ready to be handed back to the control of the Iraqi
people. But, unfortunately, that tells us nothing.
My interpretation is that Haveman came back to the USA trumpeting the
accomplishments of the reconstruction effort, but found that nobody
believed him. Given the statements that were attributed to
that would be understandable. But what happened to him?
What is he doing now?
It turns out that he has been appointed to the Defense Business
Board. The DBB was established in 2001 by Donald
The Board consists of approximately twenty private
sector executives who have amassed a vast range of experiences in
business management. The Board shall provide the Secretary of Defense,
through the Deputy Secretary of Defense, independent advice and
recommendations on effective strategies for the implementation of best
business practices of interest to the Department of Defense. The
ultimate objective of this advice is to enhance the efficiency and
effectiveness of organizational support to the nation’s warfighters.
The strange thing about this is that Haveman appears to have no
particular experience in the business world. Most of his
professional experience has been in government, or in nonprofit
The DBB site lists 28 reports that various task groups have completed.
Of those 28 reports, 14 have been produced since May 2004,
which is when Haveman returned from Iraq. Haveman’s
name appears in two of them.
I have little business experience myself, but I am fairly sure that one
of the “best practices” in business is to not pay someone to sit around
and do nothing. Ironic, isn’t it?