Galloway wins on points rather than knockout, says US
From James Bone in New York
THE new darling of the American antiwar movement emerged yesterday as George Galloway after what the US press described as a victory before Congress.
Video clips of Mr Galloway’s scathing testimony to a Senate panel were posted on antiwar internet blogs as activists suggested that the Respect Party MP should join their campaign.
“I actually think that Americans would be interested to hear his views,” said Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, the umbrella organisation of 1,000 antiwar groups. “To the extent that Bush and Blair are joined at the hip, we certainly value people from across the pond.”
Amy Quinn, the peace movement co-ordinator at the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning Washington think-tank, praised Mr Galloway’s defiant antiwar testimony. “It was certainly refreshing to see someone speaking the truth on Capitol Hill,” she said. “I think Galloway should be commended for both defending his name and highlighting the hypocrisy on the Hill on the war and the Oil-for-Food programme.
“This hearing is by far the most important development in the ongoing debate over the USA’s involvement in Iraq for a long time,” declared a blogger who identified himself only as Brian. “Unfortunately, I question the American public’s willingness to pay attention to what was said or even react with any degree of outrage to the McCarthy-like atmosphere that Coleman and his cohorts are fostering in these hearings.”
Andrew Dempster wrote:
“Inviting Galloway to testify was the worst thing that the committee could have done. Galloway is a pugnacious politician with the instincts of a street fighter, and he’s at his best when under enemy fire.”
The press awarded a win to Mr Galloway, although it was a decision on points rather than a knockout. “Brit fries senators in oil,” the New York Post’s headline screamed. The newspaper reported that Norm Coleman, the committee’s Republican chairman, and other senators “were caught flat-footed by the ferocity of Galloway’s counter-offensive”.
The New York Times said that Mr Galloway appeared to catch the Senate panel off guard and his “aggressive posture and tone seemed to flummox Senator Coleman”. It added: “Mr Galloway, accustomed to the rancorous debate of the House of Commons, more than held his own before the committee.” It noted that the panel had produced no documents showing that he had received any Iraqi money.
The Washington Post called Mr Galloway a formidable debater who launched a “fiery attack on three decades of US policy towards Iraq”. It said, however, that he “repeatedly evaded questions” about Fawaz Zureikat, the former chairman of his Mariam Appeal, who did oil and other business with Iraq.
The Wall Street Journal said that the MP had exasperated the senators by using the hearing to criticise the Iraq war.
Charles Pasqua, a former French Interior Minister, was offered millions of barrels of oil for being helpful towards Iraq but turned it down, according to his former adviser. Officials had made the offer to Bernard Guillet, the adviser, on behalf of Saddam Hussein. M Guillet told an examining judge that M Pasqua refused to accept the oil because it would have created a scandal, Le Monde reported.
See the full testimony here: BBC NEWS UK Edition