NOW that the heavy fighting in Iraq appears to be drawing to a close there is an important role to be played by other members of the coalition who have backed the use of force to oust Saddam but who were not involved in the actual fighting.
The horrific scenes of looting and anarchy on the streets of Iraq's cities can severely damage the coalition.
Both Spain and Italy have large paramilitary police forces which should now be sent to Iraq to help in general policing duties. They have carried out similar tasks in Bosnia and Kosovo. As they are armed and directly tasked by the army they would be a real asset to the British and American forces. I must admit that I am slightly puzzled as to why U.S. and British forces have not stopped the looting. Even the disgraceful International Development Minister Clare Short has called on U.S. troops to take action. Although her credibility is severely dented she is making a point which is at the back of everyone's minds. The war may have been won but there are still major battles ahead and serious attempts now have to be made to control the civilian population. If British and U.S. troops feel that as they have fought long and hard they don't relish taking part in peace-keeping operations then Britain and the U.S. should turn to their other European allies.
Both Spain and Italy have become rather silent allies since the shooting started and now they have a golden opportunity to play a key role in Iraq. Bush and Blair shouldn't doubt. These are the people for the job and a request should be made now rather than later before the situation gets really out of hand.