May 15th, 2008
10:48 AM ET
9 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. s.b.

    ONe word. Florida.

    Obama can't win it and he can't win the white house.

    May 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  2. Andy B

    Bush is my hero. He fought honorably in Viet Nam and straightened out them thar VC's yeppurs. Now he's going to straighten out them thar terrists uh huh. You go bush.

    May 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  3. Ostriches burying our heads in the sand

    Dubya's the one suffering from foolish illusion here!

    May 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  4. Scott - GA.

    Wubya is just doing what he does best trying to scare the US and Israel. This War has not made either the US or Israel more safe. This War has cost us thousands dead 100 thousands malisciously injured, Trillions of dollars, Millions of innocent Iraqi citizens not only insurgents their lives and all this behind a LIE! and Bush says he stop playing Golf in honor of the soldiers, thanks Bush I'm sure they appreciate that. Now that is more obsurd than Obama talking to the so called "Bad guys" uhhh very scary. Why do we act like we are scared to talk to these folks or think it gives them some credibility. These people have no clue where the US stands because we don't communicate with them, they get their news thru our MSM that is always trying to spread fear about them. Obama goes and tells them directly how we stand and will not Tolerate their crap then they have no excuse if we have to Bomb their butts. Israel and America should know by now not to listen to Bush and the Neo-Cons who are loosing their seats as we speak. Like Keith O. said last night about Bush just "Shut UP!"

    Post this please CNN.

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

    This is a bunch of bull and McCain says has distance himself from Bush, now McCain has Bush attacking Obama overseas. If this is not going to be a third Bush term for McCain then what is it going to be. McCain fears Obama because he know he cannot beat him in a general election. What America better do is get these Republicans out of office at least Obama do not have plans to take us into a false war, killing innocent people.

    May 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  6. Ivar

    I think Mr. Bush need to rethink all his policies. Its too late for him to correct his flawed policies but The fact remains that nothing went right in every single policy that he started. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Bush.

    There was a time when we taked about Egypt the same way but Jimmy carter made peace between Israel and Egypt. That peace came with talks. I am sure that there is a way to get Iran and Hammas to stop its hostile intents through talks. This is very dooable considering that their economy is in shreds and they have no chance of ever militarily engaging with Israel

    May 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. John Davis

    President Bush's idea of negotiation as being one of waiting around 'til the enemy accepts his ideas is futile. His reiteration of this in Israel lets us know he does not accept what even Moshe Dayan (1915-1981), one of Israel's noted military leaders and politicians, is quoted as saying: "If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies."

    May 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. john cavanaugh

    this kind of politics is dangerous. It is one thing when we debate and say nasty things about each other in our own country but to go overseas and tell foriegn governments that we are electing someone who will appease terrosrists is unfothomable.

    Mccain is more dangerous to our middle eastern allies than Obama

    May 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  9. sprkl12000

    Bush is an idiot!!! I'm sure someone else wrote that speech for him because that sounds to educated to have come from his brain!!!

    George "THE #1 EVILDOER" Bush is on his way out the door!!!!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  10. Carl

    I think think I've heard Bush say something quite so hateful about someone. This is pretty shameful, but no one likes him so they will forget all about this silly comment.

    May 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  11. Ryan West

    Obama is out of his league.

    Zero foreign policy experience.

    Never served in the military.

    Nuff Said.

    May 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  12. phyllis salta

    I am glad Bush doens't like what Obama says regarding almost anything. That means Obama is on the right track! I think the terror attack in israel yesterday had nothing to do wit Israel. It was a message for Bush!

    May 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |


    May 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  14. Interesting

    GOP must really be afraid of Obama. That's a good sign for Obama. Bash him again George!

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

    I hardly ever agree with Bush on anything, but this is one area that I do strongly agree with him. Obama wants more than anything to sit down with these terrorists/radicals and try to "work things out" with if he's God and can accomplish the impossible. There's a very basic don't sit down with and/or negotiate with terrorists. All that does is give them a sense of power, strengthens their motivation, and often creates more problems than it solves.

    One doesn't have to look too far to see why these people like Obama....he's enmeshed with high up leaders from these types of groups and he's very sympathetic to their plight. Obama won't make things better....he'll make things far worse than they already are.

    May 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  16. case

    Bush is the worst President we have ever had. He basically failed at everything including Middle-East peace. Who cares what he has to say.

    Independent for Obama

    May 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  17. Marty, Orlando

    Oh No He didn't!!!
    The republican attack machine begins.

    Bush, go away, no-one likes you.

    May 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx


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

    Why is this man even still allowed to talk? For all you Clinton supporters who say you will not vote for Obama... Here is what your next 4 years would be like.

    May 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  20. ken Corkey

    How can anybody listen to this idiot president criticize alternative foreign policy? All of a sudden he has found historical perspective?!

    May 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  21. Hillary 2 Victory

    It's NOT all Dems and It's NOT Hillary.....


    From the onset, barack said he would "meet unconditionally" with terrorist leaders...

    ha ha

    ANOTHER REASON why he is not "wright" for the job....

    Watch out though – the Obamabots are going to lash out as usual!

    May 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  22. Faye Bowring

    We can always count on the media, and especially CNN, to get it right! If you read President Bush's quoted remark, nowhere does he name names or Party. What he says is factually correct....there are some who believe if we just would sit down and negotiate or meditate over candles with the terrorists, that eventually they would come around to our way of thinking.

    So, CNN calls the White House and some aide gives the nod that Bush was indeed referring to Obama and the Democrats. Now the CNN headline is "Bush says Obama and Democrats want to appease the terrorists." Nice reporting CNN and why I ache for good old-fashioned reporting that just delivers the news without their slant!

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

    Didn't Bush negotiate with the terrorists in Iraq, many times?
    To name few names, Sunni insurgent groups (now allies, formerly terrorists), Sadr (terrorist turned ally turned enemy)

    Enough with empty speeches, it is time for solid foreign policy.

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

    Shame on you President George Bush for that Rovain Tactic-SEE YA!

    May 15, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  25. phil, philly

    so the president who allowed 9/11 to happen is the expert on preventing a terroist attack now? yeah, sure, that makes sense.

    May 15, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
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