CT Gov Candidate Tom Foley:
On Car Bombs and Capitalism
This is a four-part interview with Tom Foley, Republican candidate for Governor of Connecticut.
On Wednesday morning, February 10, 2010, Foley hadn't responded to my request for an interview, and my deadline loomed. I had a column ready to go slamming him. I canned it, though, because he called me shortly before my deadline, and we spent 42 minutes on the phone. About a week later, I called him back and we went around again for about 20 minutes.
After the first conversation, I hung up the phone disliking myself for liking him. Listening to his John Rowland kind of warmth and humor, one could easily see him as an ambassador selling an unpopular foreign policy, or in the Governor's seat convincing voters to go against their best interest.
With Nutmeg state Democrats sure to self destruct, Foley has enough money to buy the executive branch. Propaganda works, and Foley playing both sides of the market.
Foley's quickness on his feet in a one-on-one situation should surprise no one, after all, he has a top flight American education, crowned with a Harvard Business School degree. Yet at the same time, he did capitalism and civil war can co-exist, when he suggested that investors can make money within a geography stunned by political violence, as a reason why people should've invested in Iraq.
If the Americans who led the invasion of Iraq are ever brought to justice in Nuremburg style tribunals, a case could be made that Foley would be a defendant. He denies that his decisions were guided by international law like the Hague Convention which prohibits economic takeover by an occupying power.
But give the guy credit - I was pitching hardballs - asking him why respected journalists considered his tenure in Iraq a failure. He was making contact, answering without missing a beat. The journalists were wrong, he said. He had a seemingly reasonable response for every criticism thrown at him.
Although upon scrutiny, much of his story doesn't stand up. For instance, he repeated over and over that his job was never to privatize Iraq's state owned industries, despite the fact that his superiors in the Bush administration said the exact opposite throughout 2003 and 2004.
Rather than spoon feeding my opinions, though, gentle voter, I'll let you decide, as I would like to think that this is the most comprehensive discussion with Foley about his time in Iraq as has been written:
Part I, published the week of February 10, 2010, featured some of Foley’s ideas about voter participation, being an ambassador to Ireland, and UConn’s tuition increase.
Part II, published the week of February 17, 2010, scratched the surface of his participation as the Director of Private Sector Development for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from August 2003 through March 2004.
Part III, published the week of March 3, 2010, searched Foley’s responses to those who criticized the job he did in Iraq.
Part IV, published the week of March 10, 2010, discussed more about Iraq in 2004 and the statements Foley made while with the CPA.
Links to all four parts are below.
By Ken Krayeske • 2:55 PM EST
Connecticut Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley ambassadoring in Ireland. Here, Foley was visiting the Loreto Abbey Secondary School in Dalkey just east of Dublin, discussing American Infinity Project/digital speech technology. As Ambassador, Foley's perks included having Bono and the Edge from U2 attend his wedding. Correction: Don't believe it - Foley says Bono and the Edge didn't attend his nuptuals.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley spent 42 minutes on the phone this morning with me answering questions about voter turnout, the role of a U.S. Ambassador, UConn tuition increases and Abu Ghraib.
I have split the interview into two, possibly three segments, and will focus this first segment on state issues, and his time in Ireland as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.
The second (and perhaps third) portions will discuss his seven-month stint (August 2003-March 2004) as the Director of Private Development for the Coalition Provision Authority in Iraq.
With Governor M. Jodi Rell retiring, at least a dozen candidates have either intimated or outright declared their candidacies for governor. Since the 40-Year Plan has been keeping track, here is the list (in ABC order).
Democrats: Former Speaker of the House Jim Amann, Hartford health care activist Juan Figueroa, Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, 2006 Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Ned Lamont, former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi. Drop-outs: Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and State Senator Gary LeBeau (East Hartford).
Republicans: Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, former Congressman Larry DeNardis (New Haven), Lt. Governor Michael Fedele, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and member of the Coalition Provisional Authority Thomas Foley, Hartford cheerleader Oz Griebel, Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh, and Newington Mayor Jeff Wright. Drop-outs: None (yet).
"It's an open seat," Foley said. "Open seats always attract more candidates on both sides."
Interview with Tom Foley, continued...
By Ken Krayeske • 10:55 PM EST
It's political season - hide your babies. This is a still from a Foley for Senate ad. Times change, and so do candidates chasing office. h/t to Political ad guy
Much was written about Tom Foley and his task at the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. In the fog of war, you can't always tell what is true.
The right-leaning press lauded Foley. "Characters are the backbone of any good story, and the Americans working in Iraq are the finest I have ever met," wrote Noah D. Oppenheim in "Flacks and Hacks in Baghdad: What it's like to Report from Iraq," printed in the December 15, 2003 issue of the Weekly Standard.
Oppenheim praised "People like Col. Nate Slate, a man trained his entire life to fire artillery, now doing a miraculous job rebuilding the town of Taji. People like Tom Foley, a multimillionaire financier, now walking the lines at Iraqi shoe factories, helping get an economy off the ground."
Obviously, the left-leaning press was harder on him. The socialist People's Weekly World suggested in a November 10, 2003 story that Foley invited "14 Eastern European finance officials to Baghdad to give advice about privatization."
In the story titled "As Iraq Death Toll Rises, So Do War Profits," writer Tim Wheeler, quoting the Moscow News, wrote that Foley met in Iraq with Yegor Gaidar, the acting Prime Minister of Russia for much of 1992.
Gaidar, a widely respected and criticized politician and economist, laid the foundation for the mass privatization of Russia’s planned Soviet economy. While Gaider averted a civil war, there was also much suffering during this transition to a "free market" system.
Foley has no recollection of the meeting with either Yegor Gaidar or the former Soviet Bloc officials.
Interview with Tom Foley, Part II continued...
By Ken Krayeske • 10:20 AM EST
Tom Foley gives a press conference at the Connecticut state capital, March 3, 2010. Photo by Christine Stuart, courtesy of CTNewsJunkie.
Economist Peter Galbraith's critique of George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq does not sit well with Connecticut Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley.
Foley, of course, was a high ranking official with the Coalition Provisional Authority from August 2003 through March 2004. After his stint in Iraq, he became the Nutmeg state's chair to re-elect Bush.
Foley's official title with the CPA was Director of Private Sector Development, and Foley disputes any contention that his job was to privatize Iraq's almost 200-state owned industries, even though his boss, L. Paul Bremer, admitted more times and places than I can fit here that the CPA sought to privatize the Iraqi economy.
Galbraith's book, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War without End, published in 2006 by Simon & Schuster, has received minor criticism outside of Foley.
Michael M. Gunter reviewed Galbraith’s book for the Middle East Journal in September 2006. Gunter said despite Galbraith's overreaching title, the book was a "devastating critique of… US cronyism and ... even outright corruption."
"Written in a journalistic, even polemical style lacking any scholarly documentation and limited in its bibliography, Galbraith's treatise reads more like a lengthy editorial," Gunter wrote. "Nevertheless, it is a well-written, intelligent one that makes many valid and disturbing points that need to be aired."
Of Foley, Galbraith wrote: "Tom Foley, a top Bush fundraiser with no experience in handling economic transitions (and no knowledge of Iraq) was put in charge of privatizing Iraq's industry." (p. 126).
Foley's response: "He's wrong. I wasn't put in charge of privatization. My job was private sector development. My job was to begin laying the foundations for a private sector economy in Iraq. A small part of that responsibility was to put together a plan for privatizing state owned enterprises."
For example, Foley said that there wasn't a credit based banking system in Iraq.
Isn't that a reflection of Islamic culture and sharia law that frowns on charging interest on loans, I asked.
"It is a reflection of a dictatorship," Foley said. "Loans are extended on credit worthiness. In a dictatorship, loans are extended on how well you know the dictator. They had no ability to assess credit and rank credit and credit worthy borrowers. Saddam and his lieutenants ordered the banks to make loans."
Interview with Tom Foley, Part III continued...
By Ken Krayeske • 8:00 PM EST
Tom Foley gives a press conference at the Connecticut state capital, December 3, 2009, after he switched running for from U.S. Senator to Connecticut Governor. Photo by Christine Stuart, courtesy of CTNewsJunkie.
Tom Foley has measuring sticks for what success in Iraq will look like.
"If Iraq emerges as a representative government with representation of human rights, I think the goals that our government had in mind when they invaded Iraq will be achieved," he said. "People will have to decide if it was worth the cost in terms of lives and money."
This leads to the inevitable question: Seven years ago, in March 2003, did you support the invasion of Iraq?
"I wasn't a member of the government, I wasn’t in the legislature," he said. "I supported my government's foreign policy. If you are not a member of the legislature, or a member of the executive branch, you don't vote on every aspect of our government's foreign policy. I supported our government's policy."
But Mr. Foley, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said that the office of citizen is the highest office in a democracy. As a citizen, in March 2003, did you support the invasion of Iraq?
"I supported my government's foreign policy," he said.
The Bush Administration's foreign policy in March 2003 was the invasion of Iraq. Did you support the invasion of Iraq in March 2003?
"I supported my government's foreign policy," he said.
About a week after we had that merry-go-round of a conversation, it still bugged me. So I emailed Foley, and asked him to call me back for a few follow-ups. When he did, I asked him why the distaste for saying that you supported the invasion of Iraq?
"There is no distaste," Foley said. "I was just making the point that when you are a private citizen being asked if you supported it, I trust the government and support its foreign policy, but I wasn't a policy maker. To say I supported it, that is a different question if you are a policy maker."
Then Foley slipped back into his talking point about how history will be the ultimate judge of the invasion of Iraq. Doesn’t it bother you, then, I asked Foley, that we have spent thousands of American lives, more than a million Iraqi lives, and maybe $300 billion and we don't know the outcome?
Interview with Tom Foley, Part IV continued...
this to a friend.