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. Kirsten

    Oh, the irony. Bush uses the 1939 comments of fellow Republican idiot Frank Borah, to take a swipe at Barack Obama. Who does his research?

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  2. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    Dear President Bush:

    Appease THIS!!! :(

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

    what did he acomplish in 8 years=more terrorists.what a shame.

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  4. Dean - Colton, CA

    Yeah. Let's not use diplomacy. Let's just seek and destroy. Hasn't this also been shown historically to have less than stellar results? One might claim that Hitler himself used that tactic...

    May 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  5. HG, Minnesota

    Mr. President just keep quite! It's ignoring non-terrorist leaders that brought huge mess to this country.

    May 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  6. brian

    Oh the hypocrisy!! Has everyone forgotten the Bush family ties to Saudi Arabia, particularly the bin Ladens? Have we forgotten that when the planes hit the World Trade Center Towers that Bush senior was meeting in Washington with Osama's brother? Kick this hypocrite to the curb America!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  7. Chris L.

    President Bush dictating Obama on how best to conduct foreign policy?! Now that's something to laugh about. I, for one, am glad the days of cowboy diplomacy will soon be over and America will start the hard work of restoring our honor around the world. Terrorism will not be stopped until we remove the crippling fear in the Arab world that their countries, their families, will be the next ones bombed for no good reason.

    May 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  8. Michael I Hastings Minnesota

    Yea the last 7 years have been a model for success , Bush has the thought process of a 3rd grader

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

    BUSH IS RIGHT ON THIS ONE...OBAMA IS TOO NAIVE TO SERVE AT THIS TIME OF WAR!!

    May 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. Florian

    That's it, Obama is your new president :) Bush made it. He still thinks everyone would share his views instead of having the opposite view.

    May 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. Patrick Anthony Drake/Atlanta, GA

    NATIONAL SECURITY is the number one issue.

    May 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  12. TSD from Houston, TX

    Can Bush even spell appeasement?

    May 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  13. carlo

    Okay, Bush, so your way is working? Has it? How about Cheney's? Rumsfield? Huh? Shut up.

    May 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  14. @americans

    George Bush negotiated with:
    Libya
    North Korea

    These are terrorist govts that the Bush administration has been in locksteps with in negotiations to bring fragile peace and nuclear disarmament. So why the double speak and fear mongering from a failed leader who have plunged the United States into an unjust war and a woeful economic recession?!

    For George Dubya to engage in smear campaign in a foreign soil against the United States democratic nominee is not only below the belt, but shows how disingenuous he has been with the american people!

    Shame on George Bush!

    May 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  15. John IND

    Why not sit down with Iran and have open discussions? Let's lay the ground work to unify the world not seperate ourselves from them. We use the terriost label so freely becaus eif you don't beleive in what we do in USA you are a terrorist. Let's be the role model of peace ad unification not war. "Speak soft and carry a big stick". Let's make it tranparently clear with our peace partners that if anything to disturp peace in this worl would be addressed by all peace seeking countries full force. The war in Iraq is the US war in Iraq other countries pulled troops and Aid and we did nothing. Let's unite.

    May 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  16. Elly

    Who cares what this dead beat war monger thinks
    it way past time for America to apply more diplomacy around the world
    get out of the mindset of always invading countries and blowing mankind up
    Bottom line America needs to stop being the BULLY on the block!!!!
    kudos to Senator Obama for wanting a more peaceful world
    Bushs ratings say it all ....By By, dont let the door hit your butt on the way out!!!! NOONE will miss you!!

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. Angie

    No, just go over to another country and look for terrorist you'll never find!! Cause gas prices to go up for Americans, Cause Americans to loose their homes. Cause service men and women to come home with one or two limbs missing and not enough benefits to live off off. All in the name of war.

    Mean while Bush's daughter is having a luxury wedding. His family hasn't had to worry about gas or loosing their home or job. It doesn't make America seem weak to want peace. Our service men and women are under the illusion that they are defending Americans, but they are really defending Bush and his ego. That same ego that has gotten just as many Americans killed as 9/11. And innocent Iraqs. And other foreign Service men and women.

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  18. someoneshuthimup

    I just hope he know's he has just sealed the fate of the warmongering republicans

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  19. Dariel Jones

    If he want to talk about hatred, he only need to look into a mirror, before this country try to stop hatred around the world, it needs to start in its own house.

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  20. Mike

    Can't wait until this clown goes back to Crawford. He should stick to clearing brush and leave policy speeches to those with a grasp of reality.

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  21. Ali from VA

    Redneck from Texas will say anything. zzzzzzzzzzzz

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  22. Jason

    President Bush's way has been working so well for the last seven years, so of course he would choose to deride a man who might actually want to speak with nations or groups with whom we disagree. Heaven forbid we try to reach some common ground – but then again, Bush is unable to see common ground.

    The way I see it, if Bush is criticizing something someone else is doing, then they're doing the right thing.

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  23. susie

    Obama's has dual citizenship with Kenya.

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  24. deborah jeane p, Boston

    let the dog(s) keep on barking

    so that every voter knows what it means to vote republican this november.

    no one will be able to say, "i was lied to" later.

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  25. Nancy

    Yup, Bush you're still the idiot you always were. Good Ridance. Obama will be 5,000 times the president you never were.

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
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