The Washington Note - Lunch with Michael Ledeem

Back to lunch.

Ledeen made very clear during his lunch commentary that he supported Bush's invasion of Iraq only to get to Iran, which was in his view America's and Israel's real enemy. Iraq was a stepping stone to greater things. I have no doubt that Ledeen and many who supported the invasion of Iraq thought it would indeed be a "cake-walk" because they never expected the resource constraints -- manpower and financial -- in following up Iraq with military action against Iran.

While Michael Ledeen sharing with a small number of people his real intentions on Iran does not make an action plan or conspiracy, we do need to be aware that like-minded neoconservatives have been thinking about both Iraq and Iran over lunch and dinner salon sessions for years. They have been very good at recruiting like-minded thinkers and strategists, and opportunistically coaxing parts of the administration to push their agenda around the President.

As a friend told me this weekend, George Bush did not go to war because of Judy Miller. But in my view, Miller's reporting shaped the "public" environment so that Bush could better get away with the sleight-of-hand regarding their intentions and rationale for the Iraq War.

One could similarly argue that (if involved) Michael Ledeen alone could not have created and driven forward the Niger/Uranium claims. There were many complicit hands involved in forging and pushing these documents, and to be fair, no one has yet proven Ledeen's exact role, if any.

If Bush or Israel strike Iran's nuclear facilities, few will say that Michael Ledeen was responsible "alone" for that decision. Of course not.

But privately, around the salon lunch and dinner tables that Michael Ledeen, his close friends, and groupies occupy, I think that there may be a sense of satisfaction that yes, they took America and/or Israel to war against Iran.

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