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. yes

    Clinton/Clinton ticket! Never ever that walkie-talkie Hussein

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

    Is anyone listening to Bush anymore?

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

    Arrogant Leader of the Free World. How Long have we been looking for Bin Laden? Your bark is worse than you Bite.....Mr "lowest approval rating ever" President.

    May 15, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  4. Accountant Guy

    Each time this guy opens his mouth I am reminded just how much of an idiot he really is!

    May 15, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. Andrew in Iowa City

    President Bush is an idiot.
    'Nuff said

    May 15, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  6. Juliet/55 YEAR OLD WHITE LADY FOR OBAMA

    We can't get you out of there fast enough. You have tarnished your fathers legacy. YOU are a pigmy...and your legach is to leave office as the worst president EVER. just look at your ratings. So again I say...out with you pigmy,,,,,,:)

    May 15, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. Edward, MO

    I want all Clinton supporters to Vote for MCain in the fall. They are too "uneducated" to realize that voting against obama goes against their interests. It helps my interests though. I need the enron loophole to stay open so my energy stocks continue to make me rich. I need blue collar voters to help me out with this

    May 15, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. Maria Boggiano

    This president is a total idiot-no wonder his popularity is unfavorable at 80%. The gull to go in front of the Israeli Knesset and say that democrats want appeasement with terrorists is beyond stupidity. He know he is appealing to Jewish fears. Once more the fear card is being used to stop the democrats from winning in the generl election. Does President Bush want Israel involved in our political campaign? Obama has said to the Jewish community that Israel is the US best ally and he will do anything to protect it.

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

    and Bush wants?? Which terrorists is he referring to, or is he still confused about who is who and where they are???

    May 15, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  10. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Why isn't somebody following this idiot around monitoring what he says. This is not presidential or American for Bush to be on foreign soil and turn on another American. Bush needs to be impreached today, you will never hear another head of state, especially a head of state of Israel, turn on it's own people. Bush will continue to destroy America and Gates knows this and is finally speaking out.

    May 15, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  11. NoBamaEVER

    That's exactly right. Years from now, Bush will be remembered for the good he did this country.
    Terrorists can't wait for Obama...they're snickering...God help the US if he makes in the White House.

    May 15, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  12. TimeToUnite

    Rodney Kings' famous words..."can't we all just get along?"...the world's response..."unfortunately no". Fish in the sea do better. God help us.

    May 15, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  13. Michael

    Obama said a million times he would never talk to terrorists. Its a good thing nothing Bush says has any validity nor does anyone believe him.

    May 15, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  14. MS from PA

    I am ashamed to be an American right now. I can't wait until this eight year nightmare is over. Bush has done more to damage this country than any terrorist could ever hope to, and he is the one who will not be judged kindly by history.

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

    Not much longer and this nut will be back on his ranch...

    May 15, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  16. Kenny Jailal

    Bush doesn't have the TESTICULAR FORTITUDE to attack Obama in the US,It's a shame for a sitting president to go in a foreign land to attack the presidential candidate.Bush is shameless

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

    I call for Obama's death, anyone up for it?

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  18. ANY DEM WILL DO!

    BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. That is all I hear from him anymore!

    Dems unite! Grow up and get educated on the issues and where everyone stands.

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  19. Spring In Philly

    If there is any justice in the world, Air Force One will crash into the Hills of Afganistan and take out two of the worlds biggest terrorists – Osama Bin Laden and President Bush .

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  20. brice, greenville, south carolina

    soon to be ex-president bush obviously doesn't know what he's talking about. even as children we learn how to overcome our faults and fix our mistakes. bush is some how not capable of doing so. the republicans have tired of these failed policies set by their base and are now giving the democrats a chance. times up republicans.

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  21. Latoya M., NC

    Are we really listening to him after 7 years of stupidity spewing from his mouth? I think he's lost his right to speak on anything with any veracity or sageness.

    SHUTUP "Mr. President"!

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. Edwin Portland

    History??? What does history say about being in an unending war with no actual endgame??? Did Vietnam teach you anything, Mr. President?

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  23. Sick&Tired

    Wow!
    After Bush closed small training camps in Afghanistan, he opened larger ones in Iraq. Did Bush forget that Bin Laden has been telling his radicals that the best place to acquire training as we speak is in Iraq?

    Can we imagine what would have happened if Reagan didn't speak with gorbachev? If there was no diplomacy and talks during the Cuban missile crisis? Did things were resolved without losing spilling a drop of American blood.

    Can we say running without scared with your tails between your legs because you have no ideas, no agenda and no plans for the American people?

    YES WE CAN!

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  24. Blake

    Don't even talk. I wouldn't be surprized if you staged a take over this November to stay in power.

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  25. Mike

    "We have heard this foolish delusion before,"

    seems to me we are still
    getting an ear full...

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
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