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. Jamaal Kansas

    This is lovely Everytime Bush Speaks it goes against Mccain keep going Bush oviously no one Care what you think Bush You and Mccain are one in the same Mccain you are going down old guy and Bush you are a disgrace to this Country!

    May 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  2. richard saunders

    How can we believe anything Bush says. Besides being a war monger, he is a fear monger. Past experience says, if you see his lips move, you know he is not telling the truth. Just a baseless political attack.

    May 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. WhoCareswhatthisGuythinks

    Who listens to this guy anymore the worst president he is got 72% disapporval who cares what he says anymore he will be out and hide in his texas ranch in a few month.

    May 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  4. coucou

    don't you shame ! it's so harder to speak without obama's name.
    grow up!

    speak for yourself ! please

    May 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  5. MH

    Because Bush is doing everything he can to prevent world war III – By talking trash and waging preemptive wars 2.8 and 2.9.

    May 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  6. Steve

    So Obama gets defensive even when his name is not mentioned. I believe that perhaps the President intended his remarks to be directed at Jimmy Carter as well as Obama.

    Obama has dismissed two foreign policy advisors at this point for their friendly comments and discussions regarding Hamas.

    What are his true feelings? Once again, Obama contradicts himself when it comes to foreign policy.

    Obama is not running against George Bush, he is running against himself and once again his statements prove it.

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  7. Oracle99

    Oh No! Here we go with the politics of "fear" again. And why are you at CNN giving a president with an approval rating of less than 30% the audience to make these ludicrous statements?

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. Navy Vet.

    This coming from a man who has personally profitted as well as key members of his cabinet from the war in Iraq. How long did it take Haliburton to build the oil pipeline thats stealing thousands of barrels of oil from the Iraqi's and giving it to the Saudi's? You sir are a traitor to this great nation, and should have been impeached years ago. You are a disgrace to this country and all it used to represent.

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. Bush, your a sick sick man

    Obama clearly stated that he would not speak with anyone. He should not negotiate with you. I think you said it best "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." We will end this war that you started.

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  10. Chelsea

    I'd just like to throw out there that NOT talking with these people has been a major fault of the current administration; it has lead to nothing positive, nothing constructive. The past eight years of history proves that to be true.
    The fact that Obama is willing to engage the same people President Bush continues to ignore will be a key factor in why I vote for Obama this fall... I doubt I'm the only person who feels this way.

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  11. Anthony K.

    Simply amazing. Bush hasn't learned his lesson from 2006 midterms that the American people have wised up to the same old tired political trick of scaring them for votes. The truth is that Obama wants to talk to people instead of threaten them, which is exactly what he wanted before we went into Iraq. Five years later we see that maybe a different course of action was warranted. If Bush's policies on negotiation were in place during the Cuban Missile Crisis cockroaches would currently setting up shop as the world's dominant species. Mr. President how about you look at the polling numbers regarding your diplomatic "prowess" to tell you what the American people think about the Republican approach of fear as a political tool.

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  12. phyllis salta

    The "sweetie" comment does not sound condescending to me. Well after all, I am 50 and no one ever calls me sweetie anymore! i would actually find it flattering.I already know I am equal to men. we started this back in the 70's and frankly we have lost some very important parts of being women.

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  13. USCT

    Appeasement is another term the Republicans use to say that Democrats cannot handle foreign policy as well as they can. This administration is a poor example of Republican foreign policy. Eisenhower used containment and confrontation with diplomacy. Nixon used divide and conquer. This administration has used pre-emptive war to weaken our armed forces and destroy our domestic economy. Now we are not in any position to confront Iran, North Korea or other threats. I do not believe that President Bush has any moral authority to lecture anyone on appeasement. He has appeased the wealthy, big business, the Chinese, the Russians, dictatorships in the Middle East and every Republican spending program that has come along. It may take us some time to recover from the appeasement of President Bush.

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  14. DEMS UNITE

    I don't understand ppl who say they won't vote for Obama if he gets the nomination, are you voting for obama's supporters or Obama? Are you voting for or against the Iraq war, are you voting for or against roe vs. wade, are you voting for or against a guy (McCain) who has repeatedly said he knows nothing about the economy? Please put aside the pettiness and think about you and your future before casting your vote in the fall.

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. Earl in Oregon

    What the heck is he doing?....Geez, how can the President of the United States make such a fool of himself, while trying to score points for McCain. To compare it to the Nazi days, just so he can get a clapping audience in Israel. If you think his popularity has bottomed out, think again. He has dragged himself and this country to an all-time low. That ago McBush.

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  16. Kathy

    What about Granddaddy Bush who was friendly to the Nazi's???? Did he forget that his wealth came from being friendly with them?????

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  17. Counting the days 'till he's gone

    So, the man that has led the most disastrous U.S. foreign policy in history is giving us advise ?
    The man who chose not to listen to Gen Collin's advise and many others want to teach us foreign policy ?
    Sorry Mr. President. You are not qualified to speak on this matter.
    Neither were you qualified to be President in the first place.

    Jimmy

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  18. Angel

    Wow, what an empty soul George Bush has! This man uses an anniversary cerimony to play politics and fear tatics??!!

    I don't even consider him my president, or the voice of the american people because this cowboy is all to concerned with his on saddle! He will be considered when he leaves office the worst president ever!!! EVER!

    How ironic is it that before GB became president, he was involved w/oil and now that he leaves office, oil will be about $4 a gallon...that has to make one wonder!

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  19. Lotus

    Why is anyone still paying attention to anything that Bush is saying. His policies have been disastrous and frankly one would have better odds of success doing the exact opposite of whatever he proposes on economics, education, healthcare and defense. I can only pray that he doesn't do any more damage in the short time he has left.

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  20. Steve

    Wait, so Bush is talking about learning from history now??? Funny how he didn't seem to take anything away from the Vietnam War (except how to get out of serving in it) and ignored the ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE EAST in creating his Iraq policy...

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  21. People

    We will chose McCain over Obama!

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  22. Rich

    Oh yeah, America is much safer thanks to G.W. Bush. (I'm being sarcastic)

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  23. EBC

    NOW you wonder who EVER voted for this IDIOT not once, but TWICE!!!

    Need I say MORE?

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  24. Chauncey Toler

    Well President Bush has no room to talk. After what he has done in the last eight years with the false comments, false reports, and, lies he needs to end his last term on a good tone. But since that won't happen we must hear his last attempts to be heard. Whats the deal with the Mexican, American trade border aggreement. No one else aggrees with it but you, Bush. Let's be real. Obama is on a roll, which can't be stopped. Go ahead and vote for Hillary. So McCain can walk all over her in the fall. It's the truth and Im telling it.

    May 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  25. Jennifer Rogers

    Edwards is a joke. He got laughed out within the first few months. He is just upset that a woman could do better. If I were Clinton I would thank my lucky stars he did not endorse me.

    May 15, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
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