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by Daily Kos
Sunday, Nov. 02, 2014 at 12:39 PM
Like Paul Bremer, 'czar' in Iraq with his famous executive order 19 preventing Iraqi farmers from saving their own crop seeds, Tom Foley did the bidding of Bush and Kissinger in Iraq.
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Is Jeb Bush trying to move Bush family Iraq operatives like Tom Foley of CT and Eric Levinson of NC into place?
In 2003, President George W. Bush, fresh off the conquest of Iraq, needed a director of private sector development for the new Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which would govern the country from Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone. He found an old Harvard classmate running a business specializing in corporate “turnarounds,” and offered him the job. Thomas C. Foley of Greenwich accepted.
Foley’s hire, given that he’d raised a ton of money for the 2000 Bush campaign, drew some speculation that it was a reward. Foley saw it instead as his skills being put to use. “[President Bush] knows that I have been involved in operating companies and particularly had done some turnaround work and managed companies in high-stress situations,” Foley told AFP at the time. “Does this sound [like] a reward? It sounds like the short straw.” And so off he went.
It’s surprisingly hard to pin down specifically what Tom Foley did in Iraq. Major sources on the CPA or the war in general tend to gloss over or ignore him. His campaign, when I contacted them for information, said that in addition to creating a privatization plan for Iraq’s state-owned businesses, “Mr. Foley [oversaw] 160 or so of Iraq’s state-owned enterprises. He was also responsible for restoring the foundations of a private-sector economy including a new stock exchange, a new commercial code, new credit-based lending, for example.”
Mostly it seems that Foley was concerned with the plan to privatize Iraq’s creaking state-owned enterprises — a plan that was eventually torpedoed by the Iraqis over fears the companies would be sold to foreign firms, among other things.
Other than that, was he successful? A RAND Corporation report from 2009 argued that the CPA was at least partially successful in reviving Iraq’s economy, pointing to vast growth in post-conflict GDP. “The CPA achieved these results,” says the RAND report, “By curbing inflation, issuing a new currency . . . reducing external tariffs, reforming the banking system, expanding liquidity, and stimulating consumer demand.”
Foley clearly played a role in some of this. “Mr. Foley’s team accomplished a lot while there,” his campaign said, including “. . . a modern stock market, a well-functioning, western-style commercial code, restored sources of credit for businesses and individuals, and so forth.”
But that isn’t all there is to the story. The book Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post portrays the CPA as hopeless bunglers, and Foley as incompetent. “After Foley had been in Baghdad for a few months,” writes Chandrasekaran, “Bremer concluded that he wasn’t the right guy for the job, but he was a friend of the president. Bremer told people in the palace that Foley was ‘untouchable.’” The book also suggested that Foley actually stood in the way of the re-opening of the stock market, wanted to privatize everything within 30 days, and when told that seizing state companies would violate international law, he said “I don’t give a s*** about international law.”
Foley denied Chandrsekaran’s accusations during a 2010 interview with the Connecticut Post, calling the book “fiction.” Imperial Life in the Emerald City won the 2007 BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, and is still one of the most-cited works on the CPA.
As for whether his Iraq experience ties into how he might run Connecticut, Foley’s campaign said that there are “few lessons that could be applied to Connecticut.” One lesson could be that “. . . centrally planned economies and over-involved government do not work, but that lesson was obvious before Mr. Foley’s arrival.” - CT News Junkie, 7/11/14
The story about Foley cronyism came about back in 2004:
Tom Foley listens to a question from the media during a news conference to announce he is running for governor, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, in Waterbury, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
…I couldn’t help but think about something Senator John McCain had said back in October. Iraq, he said, is “a huge pot of honey that’s attracting a lot of flies.” The flies McCain was referring to were the Halliburtons and Bechtels, as well as the venture capitalists who flocked to Iraq in the path cleared by Bradley Fighting Vehicles and laser-guided bombs. The honey that drew them was not just no-bid contracts and Iraq’s famed oil wealth but the myriad investment opportunities offered by a country that had just been cracked wide open after decades of being sealed off, first by the nationalist economic policies of Saddam
I was also reminded of the most common explanation for what has gone wrong in Iraq, a complaint echoed by everyone from John Kerry to Pat Buchanan: Iraq is mired in blood and deprivation because George W. Bush didn’t have “a postwar plan.” The only problem with this theory is that it isn’t true. The Bush Administration did have a plan for what it would do after the war; put simply, it was to lay out as much honey as possible, then sit back and wait for the flies.
The honey theory of Iraqi reconstruction stems from the most cherished belief of the war’s ideological architects: that greed is good. Not good just for them and their friends but good for humanity, and certainly good for Iraqis. Greed creates profit, which creates growth, which creates jobs and products and services and everything else anyone could possibly need or want. The role of good government, then, is to create the optimal conditions for corporations to pursue their bottomless greed, so that they in turn can meet the needs of the society….
Bremer had two lieutenants on the economic front: Thomas Foley and Michael Fleischer, the heads of “private sector development” for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Foley is a Greenwich, Connecticut, multimillionaire, a longtime friend of the Bush family and a Bush-Cheney campaign “pioneer” who has described Iraq as a modern California “gold rush.” Fleischer, a venture capitalist, is the brother of former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. Neither man had any high-level diplomatic experience and both use the term corporate “turnaround” specialist to describe what they do. According to Foley, this uniquely qualified them to manage Iraq’s economy because it was “the mother of all turnarounds.” - Harper's Magazine, September 2004
And in the end, Foley's plans achieved nothing:
Reuters confirms earlier reports that Tom Foley, the Coalition Provisional Authority official in charge of economic policy, has given up on a plan to privatize 150 state-owned companies. The plan, submitted to the Interim Governing Council last fall, was shelved by that body. Many Iraqis feared that the state firms would be sold cheaply to foreign concerns, but Foley insists that the plan all along was to sell them to Iraqis. This statement contradicts the economic plans announced in August, in which the CPA said there would be no licensing or restrictions placed on foreign firms investing in Iraq, and that they would be allowed to own 100% of Iraqi companies and to expatriate profits immediately. - Informed Comment, 2/19/04
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