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. vic nashville,Tn

    G.W Bush repeat the statement what Obama said nothing wrong on that anyway who listen to Bush
    Reminder to Bush you can’t be in 08 sorry

    May 15, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  2. Bushwhacked in Eugene, OR

    Ho Hum – consider the source. More fear-based politics and policies that we don't need any more in this country - or this world. Who really cares what he thinks or says? He's as irrelevant as it gets.

    May 15, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  3. Raindog

    Naw...Obama is going to change the world not just this country and this country's political system. Have you not read the speach. Of course he will appease. Read his book. He early on learned appeasement as the way to navigate between two worlds. It is in his nature. We won't call it appeasement...we will call it"reaching across party lines...we will call it "reaching out to the world" we will call it.."reaching for common ground" But make no mistake Obama will be in petty mode when the rest of the world doesnot fall in line with his annointment as President andcome to love him as he expects. In that he will be as dangerous as Bush...This is a man who will use power not as a tool..but as a weapon on personel slight.

    May 15, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  4. anne gaffney

    GEorge has a lot of nerve–He should go away quietly

    May 15, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  5. RAY IN NJ

    Hmmmm...so, what's Bush's (and/or McCain's) solution? I deafening silence of how they'll resolve the problems in the Middle East is indication that they HAVE no plan. Just more of the same. Thus, the killing will continue under this policy of not engaging in diplomacy. Aren't we strong enough to sit down, offer solutions and make firm demands with these leaders? Certainly, NOT talking to them hasn't achieved a thing but more hatred of America, making us less safe to travel abroad. SOMETHING must change on this issue! If diplomacy does not work, then what is lost? We can come back and continue our current policies. But to not at least TRY is a mistake that the world has been suffering for the last 8 years. Why didn't Bush go after Bin Laden after 9/11? ALL of this suffering possibly could have been avoided had he did. So, why not stop trying to make it look as if this isn't a problem that he and Cheney's greed hasn't contributed to! At least SOMEONE has a plan!

    May 15, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  6. The Truth

    Obama is such a wimp. He is the poster boy for the
    conscientious objectors of this world. I wouldn't want him for the Commander in Chief of anything.

    May 15, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  7. pa voter

    comming from bush, this might help Obama, and I'm not sure who I dislike more-bush or obama......

    May 15, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  8. Patty Morlan

    I am outraged that our President would make such an inflammatory statement like this especially while on foreign soil. I think John McCain needs to condemn this statement ASAP.

    May 15, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  9. James Morrison, Alexandria VA

    The truth hurts Senator Obama. It is about time someone calls you out on your ridiculous foreign policy proposals. All Jewish Americans that care about Israel and the future of the world need to seriously think about the negative consequences of a vote for Senator Obama. Senator Obama is running for a second Carter term and we just can't afford it...

    May 15, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  10. Mike Kaplan

    George Bush has presided over the biggest foreign policy disaster in all of US history. He's got a lot of nerve lecturing anyone on world history (or anything else, for that matter). His complete and total ignorance of history is well known. No one cares what he thinks. No one.

    -mk

    May 15, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  11. MD Houston

    Bush is right. Obama will follow Nevil Chamberlain in dealing with hostile states. Obama is not ready to lead anything anywhere.

    May 15, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  12. Tim

    You don't have a clue soon to be "former" President Bush. Man that has a nice ring to it. What have you done to make this country safe??? I'm waiting...just what I thought.

    May 15, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  13. j williamson

    Bush is the lamest of lame ducks. Back in the days of vaudeville entertainment bad acts would get the "hook," that is, they would be "pulled" off stage – please SOMEONE get that hook out!

    May 15, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. chris

    Yes! Thank you George! Down with the Obamazoids! Down with Postmodern Fascism! Up with democracy!

    May 15, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  15. seah ohio

    Obama has been a long believer that Israel should lay down their weapons and tear down their wall. with no demands being places on Palestine. His church is already strong supporters of this.

    Obama says many things he does mean. He lies about Family and friends over and over again. Evident that he will lie about anything.

    He is out to win votes and telling people what they want to hear just for those votes, Not that he beleives in it or not. Just to gain votes.

    Wake up America you have been Scammed.

    May 15, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  16. After further review,Texas

    Appeasement is the reason Bin Laden is still at large.He could have been caught, but chicken little appeased the Pakistanis by letting him hide there.

    May 15, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  17. GJ

    I guess the republicans have started their fear mongering early.

    May 15, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  18. Berat (Pronounced buh-RAHT), Park Ridge, IL

    Oh, I don't know, maybe Bush is right, maybe Obama DOES want appeasement of terrorists. All I know is, whatever Obama wants, he'll still be a better president than Bush was.

    May 15, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  19. Rebecca

    . . . It takes one to know one.

    Obama 08.

    May 15, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  20. What?

    Bush needs to be slapped. By anyone. please.

    This is fear-mongering at its worst. Nothing will strengthen terrorism and dangerous ideology than a hundred year long occupation of Iraq. Do you know why Osama Bin Laden turned from ally to enemy? because we deployed troops to Saudi Arabia to protect them from Saddam. If stationing troops there caused that much of a problem, imagine how a 100 year presense like Germany would make them feel.

    May 15, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  21. Roger

    In the words of Jerimiah Wright, Obama's close friend and mentor for twenty years, "God D-A-M-N America."

    Obama '08

    May 15, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  22. moufasi

    Just think, seven more months an the anti-christ will be rid of power.
    Halelujah!

    May 15, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  23. Sam Taveras

    No one really cares what Bush says anymore.

    May 15, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  24. Bush, your a sick sick man

    You vicious brutal dictator. your time is up, and the world will cheer when you are arrested for you war crimes.

    May 15, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  25. s

    Communication is the answer to most of our problems, we cannot bully everyone into a war, then spend billions of dollars cleaning up the mess we created. Mr. Bush needs to go away, when he said our economy was in a slow down, I think he was making reference to his brain.

    May 15, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
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