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. Ranger 7

    Bush!!..... your are NOT WELCOME ....in the USA!!!

    DON'T COME BACK!!!

    May 15, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. Nikki, Florida

    Considering the disaster he's left us in, he has no right to make judgments on other methods....

    May 15, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  3. Bob

    Bush remains an absolute outrage and blight on this country. Please go to MSNBC and read Keith Olberman's special comment from last night's show. It's quite amazing and I really couldn't add much to what he said except that I will be part of the cheer going around this country on January 20 when this delusional monster finally departs for good.

    May 15, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  4. Minnesota Fats

    Is it just me, or has the GOP overplayed the fear card?

    This country has lived with the fear created by Bush far too long. It really is time for change.

    May 15, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  5. Roger

    I guess we should unify behind Obama and bash Hillary and her supporters. We should make McCains age an issue. We should use race cards to steer black vote away from any likely candidate. We should believe in Jeremiah Wright's sermons. We should smoke crack. We should hate all who opposes Obama!

    Hate! Hate! Hate! '08

    May 15, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  6. Richard

    George, no one cares about anything you have to say anymore.

    May 15, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  7. America Speaks

    Bush can you please not a let another word come from your mouth until you leave office. I hope you get arrested for treason. You and chaney are the biggest terroist the USA and the rest of the world has had to deal with.....ever. YOU ARE A FAILURE in more ways than one. You aren't even a third of the President Barack Obama will be.

    May 15, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  8. November can't come soon enough

    Here we go with the Republicans fear monger campaign!! Let the games begin.

    May 15, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  9. Plainsman

    "There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain their words away," – Bush;

    Your right Mr. Bush I cannot fathom the evils that you have done, and I wish it was only your words that were evil and not your actions that have lead to the deaths of over 4000 american defenders in your charge.

    "We have heard this foolish delusion before," – Bush;

    AND WE AMERICAN WILL NOT FALL FOR IT AGAIN!!! I will always look to the leaders who bring me hope, not fear.

    May 15, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  10. Floridian for Obama

    Bush you should have never stolen the last election, you have ruined this country and our image by the world. Go home cowboy!

    May 15, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  11. kissnahug

    Why is Dubya even talking...no one even cares what you have to say. Did you forgot that you are the most unpopular person in modern history...you're probably as unpopular as Hitler himself.

    Bush, you are the terrorist and we all know what you would do. You're probably the one who first came up with the Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran song. Just go away

    May 15, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  12. Ray

    You know who the frontrunner is when everybody is taking a shot.

    Obama 08

    May 15, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  13. John

    Here we go trying to establish the John Bush era or BUSH III.

    May 15, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  14. Kayne DeGrenier

    President Bush is absoultey right!

    Why should we be talking to people who want to kill us?

    Sen. Obama > You're wrong!

    May 15, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  15. Sue

    Bush is the most incompetent president of our life time...and we will all be better off when he is finally out of office...including the rest ot the world. His remarks are inappropriate and the same nonsensical scare tactics that the republicans deliver over and over again because they have nothing else they can deliver on.

    May 15, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  16. Ohiovoter

    I totally agree, President Bush!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Obama has ZILCH experience in anything, let alone foreign affairs. He's gonna sit down and have tea with the "leaders" like Hitler from other countries. The guy says what every left wing crackpot wants to hear. That's why he'll NEVER win the big one. MAINSTREAM America does not need a half-wit in the White House.

    May 15, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  17. Mark

    Thank god Bush will be out soon. What a complete disrespect of history it is to connect Ahmadinejad to Hitler. Iran hasn't invaded a foreign country in the last 300 years. How long has it been for america?

    May 15, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  18. Jewel

    Does anyone care what bush says or thinks anymore?

    May 15, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  19. Adam

    The very man that is making these comments has not been able to achieve peace by quiet diplomacy and creating war, so who should even care what he thinks, the only thing I care about is his sorry excuse grinch of a president to leave office in a long awaiting 6 months.

    May 15, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  20. libby

    SHUT UP BUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  21. Pat

    Whats the harm in talking with your enemy-oh I forgot, you may actually achieve peace rahter than war

    May 15, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  22. Susan Missouri

    Interesting & scary

    May 15, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  23. Pandering

    George Bush just betrayed the American people by pandering to Israel. What a sellout! He would rather appease the Israelis by throwing his fellow Americans under the bus. Give it up GB!

    May 15, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  24. Chris Mannoia

    Wow! President Bush must be getting hot! Well, no wonder; Hillary and Barack have attacked and attacked him for a year and a half already!

    The basic message is correct: you don't negotiate with terrorists or their supporters; Israel knows this, and that is why they have stood strong in front of their enemies for all these years.

    May 15, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  25. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Ok...I'm a Republican....and I have to say....President Bush – are you tring to tell the people that your foreign policy was something the next president should continue with?? The country needs to heal – and we are more divided than ever – thats why I have contributed to Obama and will support his presidency – there are many that say "we need a Democrat in the White House" – I believe we need the right person for this job....and right now – thats Obama. (if Hillary ran...that person would be McCain)

    May 15, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
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