May 15th, 2008
10:48 AM ET
4 years ago

Bush suggests Obama wants 'appeasement' of terrorists

Bush aides say the President was aiming his remarks at Obama and other Democrats.
Bush aides say the President was aiming his remarks at Obama and other Democrats.

JERUSALEM (CNN) – President Bush launched a sharp but veiled attack Thursday on Sen. Barack Obama and other Democrats, suggesting they favor "appeasement" of terrorists in the same way some Western leaders appeased Hitler in the run-up to World War II.

The president did not name Obama or any other Democrat, but White House aides privately acknowledged the remarks were aimed at the presidential candidate and others in his party. Former President Jimmy Carter has called for talks with Hamas.

"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush said at Israel's 60th anniversary celebration in Jerusalem.

"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said in remarks to Israel's parliament, the Knesset. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

The remarks seemed to be a not-so-subtle attempt to continue to raise doubts about Obama with Jewish Americans. Those doubts were earlier stoked by Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee in the 2008 presidential election, when he recently charged that Obama is the favored candidate of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas, which the U.S. government has listed as a terrorist group.

Obama last week called the Hamas allegation a "smear" and lashed out Thursday at Bush's speech in Israel.

"It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack," Obama said in a statement released to CNN by his campaign. "It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel...."

"George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel," Obama's statement said.

Obama favors "tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions," according to his Web site, "and is willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe." He does not favor talks with Hamas, which he has called a terrorist organization.

The Bush administration held three rounds of discussions with Iran about security in Iraq last year, including two at the ambassadorial level, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates Wednesday said Washington needed to "figure out a way to develop some leverage ... and then sit down and talk with" Iran.

Bush largely focused his speech in Jerusalem on highlighting the American-Israeli partnership. "The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty," he said.

Bush said the United States and Israel are locked in an ideological struggle with radicals in the Middle East, using the speech to tie al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah. "That is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the 'elimination' of Israel," said Bush. "That is why the followers of Hezbollah chant 'Death to Israel, Death to America!' That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that 'the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties.' And that is why the president of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map."

Bush then made his transition to Obama and other Democrats without naming names, raising the specter of the Holocaust to make his point.

"There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain their words away," said Bush. "This is natural. But it is deadly wrong.

"As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century," the president said.

(Updated with new Obama comment)

soundoff (400 Responses)
  1. Femi

    They should get their facts right. Obama did not say he would sit down with terrorists. He said he would talk with friends and enemies i.e. countries that are friendly and those that are not.

    You see when a person says things that are not accurate, you lose credibility.

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  2. D R

    Yes shaking our fist at them has helped too! We have a very negative image around the world right now. It's not so much that we could meet with our enemies, it's a image face lift that we need. We need to listen, not "give in" to everyone. Right now it's us and Israel against the world. Next the GOP will pick a fight with China!

    May 15, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  3. lime

    I dont think we have to worry about Obama doing anything as president. He will not even win 180 electoral votes. Hillary or Mccain 08

    May 15, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  4. Chas

    Wow! Bush playing the Nazi card. And this from someone whose foreign policy has led to an endless war in Iraq, the deaths of countless innocent people, and the ruination of the reputation of the US around the world.

    May 15, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  5. sue

    I am ashamed to call you my president.

    I love this country, and you have stomped all over it.

    May 15, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  6. Angus McDugan

    What about the "57 states" comment by Obama? Just a coincidence that there are 57 Islamic states?

    May 15, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  7. watchdog

    Consider the source, my friends, consider the source.

    Here is the twisted and despicable thinking that got us into Iraq in the first place. Exit quietly, Mr. Bush. There has been enough damage done to America by the mindless babbling puppets of evil and greed.

    There is only true security when we can live in dialogue and mutual trust with those who disagree with us. Let's give dialogue a chance before we "bring it on" and risk the lives of more people over insufferably arrogant self-righteousness.

    May 15, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  8. JPK

    Are you don't Mr Bush? OK then Bye!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  9. wow

    this is unbelievable. well this is politics folks. they must be desperate and scared of the Obama wave to be hitting like that from far away. fear tactics from across continents from across oceans. ..what next?! this exposes a weakness McCain since he has to have the sitting president of USA picth for him. Didn't McCain just come back from there? His trip must not have been convincing enough so it is time to brow beat Obama. Actually Bush even went as far as using "elites" in hsi speech

    May 15, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. Russ R

    Who really cares what this lying sack of dung says about anybody or anything. When GWB speaks, he's lying, that's a proven, well established FACT. This POTUS is a sorry, no good for nothing lying sack of dung who should be discredited and ignored by EVERYONE.

    May 15, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  11. Foreign observer

    Suggesting the Democrates are politically naive is a stupid tromperie towards America....he is good on that , he already did the same with the Irak issue. There it worked....but only short time.

    May 15, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  12. Jon

    MC BUSH !!!...the destruction of America! Neo-cons run electioins on shady attack because their politics don't identify with the American people. So they divide people and run campaigns based on fear! Thats why our couontry has moved backwards instead of forwards in the last 7 years!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  13. HILLARY CAN WIN IN NOVEMBER!!

    HILLARY HAS THE POPULAR VOTE, BUT SHE IS BEING FORCED OUT!!!

    BY A BUNCH OF MEN WHO ARE GOING TO LOOK FOOLISH!!!!!!

    SHE WHIPPED OBAMA'S BUTT IN WEST VIRGINIA!!!!!!

    AND WILL DO SO IN KENTUCKY!!!!!!

    HOW WILL OBAMA EVER WIN THESE STATES IN THE GENERAL?

    HE WON'T!

    THE STRATEGISTS AND THE PRESS CAN SAY WHATEVER THEY WANT THEY CANNOT STEAL OUR VOTES!!!!

    WE ULTIMATELY DECIDE THIS RACE!!!!

    KEEP VOTING FOR HILLARY!!!!!!!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  14. Louis

    You are time is up Bush. Leave us alone now. You have created enough mess.

    May 15, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  15. Jeff, Hampshire, IL

    Watch out America- W wants another war. We have 251 days to worry about that.

    Obama/Dem's '08

    May 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  16. cwl33t

    I agree. What next, the answer to crime in America will be to sit down and talk with every bank robber, murderer, and petty thief? Obama will be very busy over the next 8 years scheduling meetiings with every criminal on the planet. Good Luck. This Dem is voting for McCain.

    May 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  17. Dan

    I'm jewish and for Bush to compare his fake, invented war to WWII is as disgusting as him saying he gave up golf because of the dead soldiers familiy members. Absolutely disgusting. Make no mistake, Bush's imperialistic power grab for oil and money has nothing to do with Nazi Germany except for the fact that his very own grandfather funded the Nazis. Do some research folks.

    May 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  18. Roger

    Does anyone still care what this man thinks?

    May 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  19. Tony

    More idiocy from the guy who consistently suggests yesterday's solutions to today's and tomorrow's problems.

    May 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  20. Nate

    Wow... how can president Bush say anything when it comes to issues like this? The only thing he has accomplished in 7 years is to make the world a more dangerous and frightening place.

    May 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  21. dd

    I guess Bush thinks his way...attacking innocent people and starting wars for no good reason is better.

    May 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  22. Independent

    Tis is the 1st swift bost. How can a soon to be ex-President take such a smear tactic, and make it on foreign soil is beyond me. This is sleaziness in its' worst from. If the Republicans believe that they can win the White House with thiese tactics, then they are in for a shock. The American people see this for what it is – fear mongering and hatred. Pres. Bush and the entire Republican party sould be ashamed fror this action. Sen. McCain should immediately denounce this statement, if in fact he wants to run a campaign that is honest. It was Pres. Bush who pulled this country into a war that has killed over 4,000 men and women, and returned countless permanantly injured soldiers with no more than he is your hat, what is your hurry attitude. Never again, Republican Party, Never again. Disgusting!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  23. Cooper

    This is why Bush needs to go. This Yosemite Sam attitude is what got us into Iraq in the first place. No dialogue. Shoot first, ask questions later. I can't wait for a change.

    May 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  24. G

    The more Bush talks negative about Obama, the better chance Obama has of getting elected.

    May 15, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  25. Linned

    This coming from a President with the lowest ratings in history. Go figure.

    May 15, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
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