MICHAEL LEDEEN WROTE A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF HIS ROLE in the Iran arms-for-hostages scandal in the Washington Post 17 years ago. I have posted the article here.
In a back-to-the-future passage, Ledeen writes:
The May (1985) discussions in Israel were with people ranging from high-level governmental officials to recent immigrants from Iran. The topic was improving our mutual understanding of Iran; the subject of American hostages in Lebanon was not discussed.
Two main points emerged from virtually every one of those conversations. The first was that even the best-informed Israelis were themselves dissatisfied with their own understanding of Iranian affairs; the second was that they, like us, believed that the matter was sufficiently important to warrant further investigation. They therefore promised to continue their own efforts and to share with us any worthwhile results.
So, starting with relationships he had in Israel, Ledeen built relations with and explored the contours of Iran’s expatriot and exile communities. He then writes of the introduction to a major league Iranian businessman, Manucher Ghorbanifar:
In early July of 1985, a person I had not previously known — Al Schwimmer, the retired chief of Israel Aircraft Industries and a personal friend of Prime Minister Peres — came to Washington from Israel to inform me that the Israelis had been contacted by an apparently very well-informed Iranian named Manucher Ghorbanifar, who not only possessed a profound understanding of his country but — apparently with the encouragement of leading members of the Iranian government — was interested in discussing future relations between Iran and the United States.
Ghorbanifar had been introduced to the Israelis — my impression was that the encounter had taken place quite recently — by the celebrated Saudi Arabian businessman, Adnan Khashoggi. Schwimmer urged a meeting with the Iranian as soon as possible to listen to his story.
Ledeen’s self-expressed admiration for Ghorbanifar seems so fervent that one can easily see this lasting two decades, just enough time to get a a replay of Iran-Contra. Ledeen writes:
At this meeting and during subsequent conversations, Ghorbanifar demonstrated an extraordinary ability to seek maximum gain for his own country while simultaneously finding ways to accommodate the interests of the parties with whom he was dealing.
A self-made businessman who had twice achieved considerable financial success, Ghorbanifar proved himself to be one of those rare individuals who understands not only the subtleties of his own culture, but our own as well. And his interests and energies were seemingly unlimited; for example, he managed to find the time to translate a lengthy book about Soviet espionage from English into Farsi — writing in longhand in the small hours of the night.
This certainly looks a lot like history repeating itself to me.
— Steve Clemons