May 15th, 2008
10:48 AM ET
10 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. buckeye in GA

    Ummmm, I don't think Mr. Bush understands the difference between "diplomacy" and "appeasement". I really don't think the Democratic party has offered to sacrifice principles and pay off the terrorists in return for peace. Come on. Of course, this is coming from the man who coined the phrase "Axis of Evil".

    Pandering from a lame duck prez. How unoriginal.

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  2. Robert

    Bush ..falling down that well .....and NO Legacy !!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  3. Abiodun Esho

    President Bush is only giving us a taste of what to expect from John Mccain. They both should tell us what their non-discussant attitude has fetched the poor civilians of Iraq, the infants killed in Iran, the misplaced Afghans and the lost of peace and rest of mind in the world at large.

    If your Bushy approach has not worked, rather than Man Caining the dead horse, shouldn't we go back to the BARACK and rethink?

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  4. charlo white

    Bush should be ashamed of himself for trying to continue to scare people. He should be afraid of his own policies that have hurt us and people around the world. It is so sad to see an American President with the lowest approval rating that any President has ever had stoop so low in politics. Bush does not have a legacy-Fear is all he can give for eight long years of nothing. We will no longer tolerate winning elections based on fear.

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  5. emmy

    Bush is right on this one

    May 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  6. M Philllips

    Yes, President Bush is a clairvoyant now ,too, in addition to his many other talents. He should know more about taking words seriously than anybody.

    May 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  7. Tom

    When Bush says Obama wants to appease terrorist because he believes in negotiations instead of war mongering; what does Bush think, where all idiots?

    May 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  8. brian

    isn't this guy out of office yet?

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

    Same ole same ole. The Bush Administration wants to feed the same old FEARS that they were so good at Propergating . Enough Americans, Time to Walk without Shame and Begin to Walk with our heads held High and a sense of HOPE.... OBAMA 08-13

    May 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  10. Sue P / PA

    Bush lives by the old adege...."Silence is Golden" when in fact it is the opposite.

    Never did Obama say he would just call an enemy up and say "Hey, Lets get together for lunch"

    Preparation will be made before hand..but preconditions are not a necessary fact in trying to let our enemies know where we stand and how we will respond to situations.

    We are not God, but we are a strong example of how one lives in harmony with others.

    Please post this..or am I on your "ignore" list????

    May 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  11. Lito

    From this statement alone we can officially say that the general election has began, Obama respond quick and let Bush know you are ready. To dems all over the country lets unite and change this country.

    May 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  12. Daryl, Des Moines Iowa

    What a pathetic attempt by Bush. Lets not forget it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat, that helped crush fascism.

    To reframe the situation: Every action the Bush regime has taken in the middle east has either backfired, making the region more violent, and less stable, or had no beneficial effect for the US, for Israel, or for peace in general.

    Frankly, no matter who is elected in November, they could not possible do worse in the middle east than "president" Bush, unless they bombed Allah's tomb in Mecca with pork chops.

    May 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    I have two words for Pres. Bush. And they ain't "Happy Birthday!"

    May 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Caryn, Washington DC

    I'm really going to listen to Bush because his policies have worked so well for the country.

    WHERE ARE THE WMDs W? Where are they?

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

    does Bush sleep at night knowing that his invasion of Iraq has cost tens of thousands of innocent lives? does he not realize that he is perceived in the very same way of those he criticizes? the sooner he fades away into obscurity the better... and i hope Americans are not foolish enough to elect his younger brother should he make a presidential bid. we should have learned our lesson when his whiny old man was in office.

    May 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  16. Sara

    I wonder what Mc Bush will have to say about this remark? Stupid ,stupid words keep coming from this mans mouth. Where is that moving van we need to get this jerk back to Texas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    Nazi appeasers? You mean like Prescott Bush and George Herbert Walker were? He's been trying to sell this sludge for years, and nobody's buyin it anymore.

    May 15, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  18. Dems Unite to Save our Nation

    As if George Bush has a handle on foreign policy. As if he knows what's best for our country. If i was a Republican candidate, I'd run from this man. He is one of the many anchors for John McCain.

    May 15, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  19. Jeff D, South Bend, IN

    Coming from someone who is a proven liar, that can't even spell "appeasement" doesn't exactly carry a lot of weight.

    May 15, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  20. Douglas -- Rochester, MN

    More bombastic bluster. Sorry President Bush, but we stopped listening to you long ago; you've lost your credibility. Likening Senator Obama to the Nazis will only further alienate the Republican party from the American voters. There is a vast difference between listening to your opponent's point of view, and out-right giving-in to their demands. Dialogue is always useful; the challenge is determining when it is sincere, and doing what is fair and equitable to ALL concerned. I'm not too sure you've mastered the latter.

    May 15, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  21. H-ROD

    Bush should just keep quiet, take his plunder and go home! (yes Obama can).

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

    Oh and beating up on "Car bombing, rock throwing third world countries" is going to solve anything! Give me a Five years break!

    May 15, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  23. Tony Ward

    Let's hear it for our President's understanding of "diplomacy!"

    January cannot come soon enough.

    May 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |


    May 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  25. someoneshuthimup

    If we don't STOP THE MADNESS NOW we could be looking at Jeb and Chelsea as our future presidents. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    OBAMA 08

    May 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16