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. Amy M

    When Bush is criticizing your foreign policy, you might be on to something.

    May 15, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  2. OUR USA!

    OBAMA WANTS TO TALK TO THE IRANIANS.......WHAT A LAUGH...OBAMA RUNS AWAY FROM SITTING DOWN AND DEBATING HILLARY CLINTON FOR FEAR THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD LISTENING MAY HAVE MORE OF AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE JUST HOW IGNORANT HE IS ON THE ISSUES AND HE IS OUT PUSHING FOR TALKS WITH OTHER WORLD TERRORISTS! HOW CAN A MAN WHO (LIKE BUSH), AVOIDED WORLD TRAVEL, SIT DOWN AND MAKE DECISIONS ON THE UNTIED STATES' BEHALF, WHEN HE IS IGNORANT AS A DOOR KNOB WHEN IT COMES TO WORLD POLICY! I GUESS THE UNITED STATES IS SO STUCK ON A "MAN" IN OFFICE THAT THEY WOULD AGAIN SACRIFICE THE COUNTRY TO KEEP IT THAT WAY. IF YOU WANT CHANGE, YOU NEED TO PUT INTELLIGENCE TO WORK AND THAT IS WITH HILLARY CLINTON.

    May 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  3. Greg Pa

    This is the kind of talk that put him in the white house. Dems are good fore the economy but republicans keep this house safe. WE can not move forward without both.

    May 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  4. Enlightened Voter

    And this from a man who has managed to turn the entire world including our once greatest alley (England) against us!!! Incredible. By the way in case george bush doesn't know how to spell what obama's strategy it's spelled d-i-p-l-o-m-a-c-y. You catch more flies with honey than lemon.

    May 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  5. FLORIDA Voter for Barack Obama

    Hey George! Your lucky, Barack wouldn't punch a retard in the mouth...nimrod.

    May 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  6. autopos

    It's funny...Real funny bush. Do you mean appeasement for the Nazi's like when your grandfather's corporation funded them? Yeah. Look it up. When all is said and done....we need to bring Bush, Cheney and the rest of their cronies to public trial for war crimes. This is the only way to show the rest of the world that we mean business and that these guys were running our government without public permission.

    May 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  7. DemRuth

    I am a Jewish American who supports Israel and Obama! I am very aware of the atrocities of the Holocaust but I am also tired of Bush's fear politics. I don't believe for a second that either Democratic candidate is hoping to appease terroristS. American has learned from the mistakes of the past, it's time to move onto the future..

    ANY DEMOCRAT '08 !

    May 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  8. JQ. Bui

    I hate to say it, but Bush really is that ignorant.

    These people hate us for many reasons, and there is nothing worse than not trying to understand what is it that they hate us for. Nothing justify killing of innoncent, but if you don't try to understand them you would never change the status quo on the ground.

    May 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  9. claudiasu

    Oh whatever.

    May 15, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  10. wilfred

    Barack Hussein Obama , the name speaks volumes doesn't it.
    So now I am a racist for putting it out there.

    May 15, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  11. Sandra

    Bush has been in negotiations with North Korea; part of what he called the axis of evil. What a hypocrite Bush is regarding negotiating.

    May 15, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  12. John in Iowa

    Of course he does, the terrorists are his brothers!

    Obama's endorsements:
    HAMAS
    LARRY SINCLAIR
    REV. WRIGHT
    WILLIAM AYERS
    LOUIS FARRAKHAN

    Hillary or McCain '08-NEVER OBAMA!!!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  13. rice, bryan

    and this is coming from a modern day hitler himself!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  14. John

    Seems like our President might want a little history lesson. It is shameful and unneccessary to compare modern day events to those of the Holocaust – one of the darkest days of mankind. When are our World leaders, particularly our own President, going to realize that not every moment should be engulfed by party politics?

    May 15, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  15. mohd222

    What's with the obama racist t-shirts on stores?
    more at http://www.mohd222.wordpress.com

    Mohd

    May 15, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  16. albert einstein

    Dear George,
    Belief in god is a childish superstition quaint and out dated.
    Being jewish myself i have the utmost respect for jewish people, however there is nothing chosen about them. they are ordinary people just like any one else.
    Understand this and recognize that peace can be achieved when BOTH muslums and jews realize they are not special and above everyone else.

    yours truly

    Dr.Albert Einstin

    May 15, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  17. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Awww – he couldn't even read the words that were written for him – doubt he has the brain-power to understand what the words mean.

    Geeeeezzzzzz

    May 15, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  18. deck

    Bush's comments are exactly what one has come to expect from him – no more, no less. Obama's response is solid, worthy of a far better leader... here's hoping!

    May 15, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  19. Scott, Wichita

    While I disagree with the use of Hamas against Obama, I agree with W' on this one.

    You can't try to sit down and talk with them, because to them, they're right, we're wrong, and nothing will change that.
    Vice-versa on our side.
    The only way to end all this fighting is to either separate us from each other, or have something go catastrophically wrong for both of us so that we're forced to work together (notice how a lot of the anti-china sentiment went away as soon as the quake hit?)

    May 15, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  20. Anonymous

    Bush...Just need to get out and shut his mouth for ever..
    He is a liar..Do not worry Obama,they can continue making false political attack and that wil not change anything...Obama will win and be our next president

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

    Yeah because your cowboy diplomacy has been SOOOO effective. Let's see, since bush was given the presidency North Korea has developed nuclear weapons, AlQueda is as strong, if not stronger than they were in Sept. 2001, the Taliban is on their way back in Afghanistan, we now torture people for false confessions, and the rest of the world now looks at us with mistrust at best if not downright contempt. THANKS BUSH.

    May 15, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  22. Bye Republicans

    Idiot!

    May 15, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  23. Michigan Voter

    Didn't George H.W. Bush sit down with Sadam during his presidency? It is unfortunate that Bush chose this moment to make a political jab at the democrats. This was a celebration and he turned it into an attack ad. Shame on him.

    May 15, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  24. John K.

    Obama and the Democrats don’t want to appease terrorists; they just want to use intellect instead of jumping into situations with guns a blazing. Unfortunately the current administration lacks the ability to use intellect when dealing with terrorist and that is why we are still fighting them and creating more every day.

    May 15, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  25. Amy R.

    Bush is crazy to compare Hamas to Nazis. This is pandering in the most disgusting way to attack Obama. I am insulted Bush would stoop so low.

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