A few hundred British troops living out of nothing more than their cut-down Land Rovers and light armored vehicles have taken to the desert in the start of what British officers said would be months of patrols aimed at finding the illicit weapons trafficking from Iran, or any sign of it.Let's go through this again - there is no evidence whatsoever for the Dr Evil theory of Iraqi warfare.
There's just one thing.
"I suspect there's nothing out there," the commander, Lt. Col. David Labouchere, said last month, speaking at an overnight camp near the border. "And I intend to prove it."
Other senior British military leaders spoke as explicitly in interviews over the previous two months. Britain, whose forces have had responsibility for security in southeastern Iraq since the war began, has found nothing to support the Americans' contention that Iran is providing weapons and training in Iraq, several senior military officials said.
"I have not myself seen any evidence -- and I don't think any evidence exists -- of government-supported or instigated" armed support on Iran's part in Iraq, British Defense Secretary Des Browne said in an interview in Baghdad in late August.
"It's a question of intelligence versus evidence," Labouchere's commander, Brig. James Everard of Britain's 20th Armored Brigade, said last month at his base in the southern region's capital, Basra. "One hears word of mouth, but one has to see it with one's own eyes. These are serious consequences, aren't they?"
Evidence of Iranian armed intervention in Iraq is "irrefutable," one U.S. commander in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Michael Barbero, told Pentagon reporters in August. The lead U.S. military spokesman in Iraq renews the allegation almost weekly in Baghdad.
Iraq's remote Maysan province is "a funnel for Iranian munitions," said Wayne White, who led the State Department's Iraq intelligence team during the war and now is an adjunct scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. White said that in the first year of the occupation a well-placed friend had seen "considerable physical evidence of it, and just about everyone in al-Amarah knew about it."
Of course, a well-placed friend. It's bizarre how Iranian-sponsor stories always go this way. Where's the evidence? There's plenty of evidence, but my friend's got it all. Or it's too secret for anyone to see it. Or the liberal CIA is covering it up. The constant is that it is never, ever produced.
But Maj. Dominic Roberts of the Queen's Dragoons said: "We have found no credible evidence to suggest there is weapons smuggling across the border."
Although, I think David Axe of Defensetech.org is suffering from a case of BRD, Brit Romanticisation Disorder, when he describes Lt-Col. Labouchere as riding "through Maysan like a modern-day Lawrence of Arabia, uniting the province's tribes under the banner of Iraqi control."