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. AKRON, OHIO OBOMA SUPPORTER

    BUSH YOU NEED TO BE QUIET AFTER WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO THE UNITED STATES. YOU JUST DON'T WANT OBOMA TO WIN THE ELECTION

    May 15, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  2. Nate W

    We should get used to this tactic and come up with a good defense. Of course it's the usual BS from the GOP - but it's what they have and what they're going to use, so let's learn to fight back.

    May 15, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  3. Jeanne from Michigan

    Yuck! Like anyone would believe a word that comes from his mouth. Pure garbage! Hey George, while your in the Middle East, why don't you go poking around for those WMD's you can't find...

    May 15, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  4. Brandon

    Wow, I didn't realize that Bush was going to campaign for Obama!

    First the endorsement of John Edwards, then the anti-endorsement of Bush... Turning out to be a great week for the next POTUS!

    Obama 08!

    YES WE CAN

    May 15, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  5. Greg, NY

    No, let's not talk to our enemies Mr. Bush, let's just drop a 'nucular' bomb on them. That'll improve our image around the world.

    Has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe if Hamas likes Obama, they'll be willing to actually negotiate a real peace treaty with him?

    May 15, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  6. Devon

    Wow. THIS is the best the Republicans have, come November? Well, it's been fun having you in that big white manor up there on 1600 Pennsylvania, but methinks you and your ilk are getting the boot come the 2nd Tuesday following the first Monday in November. Pack yer bags and get out.

    May 15, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  7. George

    Go ahead Bush, let's bomb the world into a peaceful existence.

    May 15, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  8. kris

    bush makes me sick

    May 15, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  9. Damion K. Miles

    What has President Bush done to deter terrorists? Nothing at all. Does he not understand that a terrorist cannot be deterred? No one is saying that we have to appease them, but, you have to admit, not talking to them sure isn't working. There is absolutely nothing bad that can come out of sitting down with these leaders from a position of power as opposed to sending more of our troops to die in foreign lands after they blow something else up in America.
    George Bush's stubbornness is one of the main reasons that America is in such bad shape now. Honestly, I didn't think it was possible to cause this much damage while being in office.

    May 15, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  10. Me :)

    I am a MODERATE......just can't take the idea of the MOST LIBERAL Senator becoming president...sounds too much like a Carter Presidency....and I am old enough to remember that hell.....bye bye Democratic Party....My family will now register Independent and vote with our heads in November....hopefully a good Moderate Experienced Candidate will surface soon :)

    Hillary Clinton would have made one hell of a great President…..too bad the media made the Clintons out to be racists so she lost the African American's support…..too bad the media is SEXIST.....too bad the DNC could not even support this family that has given their entire lives to public service and to the Democratic Party, too bad the Dems Primary system is flawed and gives caucus states soooo much control where only 2-3% of the population gets their votes counted, and too bad Democratic voters could not have supported this family that has given us the ONLY SUCCESSFUL DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENCY OVER THE LAST SEVERAL DECADES changing deficit to surplus and adding 22 million new jobs…..it's really too bad, she's such a bright, intelligent, hard-working person…..
    good luck in the fall, DNC…you will need it BIG TIME!
    Where else but in America can the DEMOCRATIC candidate who has WON NY, NJ, TX, OH, PA, CA, WV, KY, RI, MA, NH, TN, AZ, NM, AR, OK, and YES FL and MI.....not be our democratic nominee??????

    May 15, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  11. Casey from Atlanta

    "Bush said the U.S. and Israel are locked in an ideological struggle with radicals in the Middle East..."

    Bush doesn't even know what 'ideological' means. All he knows is cowboy diplomacy and setting things up for his business buddies to reap millions off of America taxpayers...

    Bush is a failure and has no place criticizing anyone's foreign policy...

    May 15, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  12. Eric

    Words are free. Wars are not. I know that's not a concept you understand, Mr. President, but I hope our next President does understand that.

    May 15, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. Emma houston Texas

    bush got a problem

    May 15, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  14. matt, Philly, PA

    Bush... you're retarded... you know nothing about foreign policy... you think everything is solved with guns and war and you're trying to argue that the democrats never think to use guns and war. Obama has even said he would make strategic strikes against Al Qaeda in Pakistan if he received good intelligence about it. It's all about trying for peace with Iran and Syria... not immediately calling for war. We want to at least reach the people of Iran if the government cannot be reached... many Iranians hate their government.

    May 15, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  15. Brenda

    GW – The one trick pony. I wonder how much duck tape he now has on that Fear Card he likes to play over and over. George, less card playing and more real work would have actually helped us all.

    May 15, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  16. Fitz

    Hey Bush and all the Repub's, when all else fails, resort to fear mongering and smear tactics. I guess it has worked for you in the past. The only problem is that you've used it and have since ruined the fabric of life for many americans for years to come. Americans need to send you a strong message that says we know what you guys did to us, we still face threats, you didn't get Bin Laden but now we have to pay $4 a gallon for gas, $4 for a gallon of milk , people losing their homes, losing their jobs and the list goes on. And oh by the way, you still didn't get Bin Laden.

    May 15, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  17. Enlightened Voter

    I find it amazing that a man who has turned the entire world including our once greatest alley (England) against us can make a remark about Obama's desire to use diplomacy with our enemies than obliteration. Is it any wonder Bush has an 80% disapproval rating. It's not appeasment Bush, it's called diplomacy something you never used and have you ever heard the phrase "you catch more flies with honey......."

    May 15, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  18. Dan, Idaho Falls, Idaho

    Bush's invasion / occupation of Iraq is sure working great, eh? That'll show them ole terrorists.

    May 15, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  19. QG

    Why should we care what Bush thinks?

    He says Obama wants appeasment.... Well America wanted a qualified president for the past 8 years and we didnt get that!

    May 15, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  20. Linda in Va

    How in the heck did this man make it to the presidency? His miserable failures have harmed us as a country. Once again he blunders his own agenda out to the world that puts shame into the light. This full presidency has been a nightmare in my eyes. Not just one term but two, are the american voters ignorant to all this?

    May 15, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  21. Proud1of 26% in WV

    If this is a they have for ammo they had better just go home.

    May 15, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  22. scat398

    Get a clue Mr. President. You have become the very thing you say you despise, the greatest terrorist of them all.

    The only thing Barack is interested in doing is actually using diplomacy to rebuild our relationship with foreign countries that you have completely destroyed.

    Do us all a favor and shut your mouth and go hide in a hole in afghanistan with bin laden and let the real leaders deal with these big boy problems. Who knows we may actually regain our status as a caring, freedom loving nation, and save lives and money all at the same time.

    May 15, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  23. Candy West Virginia

    How many days do we have left of this clown....?

    May 15, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  24. YES WE CAN

    How dare Bush go to Israel and tell the wonderful Jewish People that if Barack Obama and his cabinet talks with Iran that would be like talking to Hitler. Maybe if Bush had talked to the people in Iraq he wouldn' t have cost this country and families 4,000 people their lives and countless billions of dollars. Maybe this economy wouldn't be in shambles. The nerve of Bush and McCain using this to scare the country. This is just sick, underhanded and undermined. Bush is grasping for anything to keep his policies in place at any cost. I'm a 60 w/female Republican voting for Barack Obama and proud of it.

    May 15, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  25. bill

    It is unfathomable that the only one in the exchange that sounds presidential is the Democratic nominee. Thanks to Bush, we need an overhaul of our whole political system. The failed policies of the last eight years show Americans that this system does not work. Billions of dollars exported every month for a political system in Iraq that has shown so very little progress in the last three years, while tax cuts to the corporations that move American jobs overseas. A president that does not want to release our oil reserves to aid the people while the nation looks at an abyss of recession. Barack will take our country in the direction needed. Bush can continue to quack out the rest of his Lame Duck presidency.
    :)

    May 15, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
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