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. mama4obama

    He keeps talking, but no one is listening. Your time is just about up buddy.

    May 15, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  2. Kenneth Texas

    I am surprised Bush can pronounce the word "appeasement".

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

    Bush wants to be self righteous NOW? Where is Osama – was it all worth it? Did any of his relatives die in the war? Did he send Jenna Bush down to fight for America?

    Useless hypocrite. History will judge him appropriately, no matter what he says.

    May 15, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  4. Patty Don't

    When you use an event like the 60th Anniversary of Israel's existence to liken current Democratic leaders to those who allowed Hitler to march across Europe, you are playing with fire. To Use this as a platform for anything other than solemn rememberance regarding why Israel was founded is very direspectful to not only those murdered in the Holocaust but also all of those resistance fighters who gave up there lives fighting for what was right.

    Bush wouldn't know what was right if it punched him in the face.

    May 15, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  5. Patrick

    Whatever Mr. Pres.. you've been right about so much during your years in office. We really believe you...

    You can still meet with these people... you aren't going to make bad people go away with military force. There will always be bad people.

    May 15, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  6. Blackwoman, Ohio

    Good, am I the only Democrat that thinks Obama is just not ready to be President. I hate tol say this but I agree with GWB on this one. I think Obama gives great inspiration but I fear his presidency. Oh well, could not be as bad as GWB.

    Still, I think I will be voting independent in Nov.

    May 15, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  7. Hanging Chad


    President Bush is correct. The appeasement that the liberals want will not work. It is very appropriate that this speach was given in Isreal because they are on the front line in the war on terror. If Isreal had taken the track that American liberals (Clinton and Obama) want to take, they wouldn't be celebrating their 60th birthday.


    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  8. Doney R. Larive

    Mr. Bush is right ; as a man and as a leader of our great nation .
    We can not ever give in to terriost nation's . If he could run for office I would vote for him again, he is and will always be a great president..
    Thank you Mr. Bush !!!

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  9. Jade

    As usual, with grand words and gestures, Bush lays out the world as he sees it, in purely back and white terms, i.e. a battle of good versus evil.

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  10. Brandon

    Why is it the US's responsibility to monitor the world. I rather put my tax money into my children, my neighbor's children, or maybe finding oil that is not dependent upon the middle east being a stable government.

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  11. Shane

    Bush has no credibility, his words are meaningless. The Blood of countless lives are on his hands. I think his judgement has been proven foolish and he should be impeached. I think he is a traitor to our country as well.

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  12. eugene

    BUSH u are alot of things Mister.......Lier, wiretapper, immunity giver to your Buddies.. Lied to the american people , Fear mongouring, Hateful little man and u talk about how much Values u have and how much u lean on your faith and your belief in God..... Punchline when u went to war in Iraq and killed innocent people just b/c saddaam was a bad dictator WOW u wonder why people wanna kill us.. Obama should meet since u or Mccain want even sit down with the man face to face, MAN UP BUSH ..... U want look weak by meeting him just make u look stronger tht u can look a man in the eyes... thats a reel leader

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  13. Ryan

    George Bush's "WMD-snatch gone haywire" in Iraq has already killed more Americans than 9-11 and mounting.

    He needs to stop talking. Now.

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  14. Chris in SC

    Hey W.,
    Only about 30% of Americans care at all about what you have to say. The other 70% are too smart to believe your rants.

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  15. FL

    If he does sit down to talk to these nutjobs (aka Carter) – please bring a camera crew. I want to see this. If you make it out, then you can make a movie, maybe win the Nobel Peace Prize or at the very least, write a book. You don't think THEY will be prepared. That's why we have Secretary of States for diplomacy. Please, please, please get a clue as to foreign relations before you speak about them. Please.

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  16. wwf

    Bush is the biggest mistake that American voters have made in the History of the United States. I hope those fools that voted not once, but twice for this man are real proud of themselves. Oil exs. not included.

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  17. Deana

    President Bush, what a honor to have you as our president. I Shudder to think what would happen if someone like Obama ended up as our next president. He's not getting my vote. Maybe it will take voting someone like this in to "wake America up". Or maybe we'll do the right thing and see right through him. I'm proud to be an American. I'm also proud that our soldiers fought for our freedom. And unlike the coward Obama, I will wear our american flag on my clothing as a symbol of freedom and equality. President Bush, you will go down in history as heroic, and brave for all you have done to fight against a terrorist attack on our beautiful country. Afterall, it's not just "liberty and justice for us" it's "liberty and justice for all". And that's what makes a great president.

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  18. Relevant

    Keep talkin', Georgie. The more typical drivel comes out of your mouth, the more you BURY your party and your legacy.

    You never did get the message that if other entities in the world have a problem with the US, that it might be because they have a legitimate point. The world thinks we're too arrogant and imperialistic. Your response was to say F the world, and act even more arrogant and imperialistic.

    Your historically low approval rating is, in part, directly attributable to the abysmal foreign relations skills your administration has shown. We NEED to re-enter the global community, if for no other reason than to apologize for the last eight years of quasi-dictatorship you have heaped upon us all.

    So go on, criticize others for wanting to undo YOUR damage to America's standing in the global neighborhood. Because all you're doing is making that strategy look more right.

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  19. Chris

    This is a very biased piece. In fact the leader of Hamas did endorse Obama. Everyone should look up the quote right from the man's mouth. Also, this article is a way to stoke false fears that Republicans are engaging in targeting religious groups by suggesting that Bush and McCain are merely saying this to win Jewish Americans. Not so. In fact every one of us should think twice about voting Obama if he's this generation's Neville Chamberlain. It's a real concern no matter what your religious affiliation.

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  20. Lumberjack

    If Bush had studied history and had been present for Vietnam he wouldn't have repeated the mistakes of his generation. This is a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black!

    May 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  21. Bisola

    Give me a break! Haven't you done enough Bush...would you like WWIII. Please stop talking and sit down!

    May 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  22. Jon

    Nothing new here. This is typical of Bush and his politics of fear.

    The concept of a country running on something other than the fear of being attacked is beyond him.

    May 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  23. josh j.

    The quote about meeting with Hitler was from Sen. William Borah "The Great Opposer" who sounded amazingly like John McCain. Read some of the other things he's said in speeches against the League of Nations.

    Unfortunately, I doubt Bush even knows who Borah was.

    BTW Although McCain's Mother's side lived into their 90s, his father and grandfather died younger than he is now.... by some years.

    May 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. Shadman

    Mr President, When are you going to give up your Rambo mentality.....your policies have failed...let's us try something might just work.

    May 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  25. Rodney Ellis

    Why is this moron still talking about terrorist?

    May 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
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