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. Aaron from Riverside, CA

    Is this idea some more of Bush's "good judgement"? LOL Give me a break Bush, as if anything you say matters or has any remote relevance in the truth. Just shut up and fade into history as the worst president of all time like you are.

    May 15, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  2. Ilona Proud Canadian


    Halfway around the world! In my humble opinion, this latest blast from the Republicans, coming straight from the mouth of current President Bush, ties Sen. McCain with an almost undo-able knot to the Bush years in the White House. It also sends one glaring message " The Republicans have accepted the all but inevitable outcome that "Sen. Obama is the Democratic Presumptive Nominee, And The Republicans Are Running Scared" Make no bones about it.

    Seeing that President Bush's reputation in the US is in tatters, who do you folks think will be listening to this latest attack on Sen. Obama. Looking in from the outside, I don't think too many people will be standing at attention for this disgusting attack.

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  3. Eric

    Considering he is responsible for US bankruptcy, its loss of prestige all around the world, considering US is less safe after 5 years of a stupid war, that guy should find a hole where he will hide and shut up. Hey, 30% still approve that man.

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  4. Rosemary

    Another questionable factor why many Democrats are now moving their support to McCain. It makes sense...doesn't it! No time for inexperience to be in the White House.

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  5. M. Jan, Exton, Pa.

    Bush, you are not my President anymore and you are a stupid jerk.

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  6. Craig

    Listen to this guy, he blows everything way out of context. Mr. Bush if you never, ever ( which is your way....... may I say it hasnt worked very well) discuss the issues we have with others in this world then how do you ever solve them? have no right to say anything about someone else's idea's with the mess you and Dick created.

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  7. Mike Winger

    George Bush is hardly qualified to tell anyone what will be a successful foreign policy.

    It would be a good bet for the new president, to ask Bush's opinion on foreign policy issues – then do the exact opposite.

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  8. Matthew from Lincoln, NE

    It's about time someone called Obama out for "appeasing" Iran... it's almost like this Obama guy wants world peace, or something! unforgiveable! talks with Iran would be terrible for the American people, and American businesses – What would a defense contractor like Haliburton do in a peaceful world?

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  9. Dorothy Smith

    Bush just need to go away because he has messed up everything if he would have tried to talk or even told the truth we will not be in the mess we are in today all the american that have died,gas food, and every thing else is bad.Bush just please go away because we are sick and very much tried of you. and please take John Mccain with you because we really are in trouble here in american and we just need help so please go away.If you love Americia just go away please, because you don't have nothing to worry about gas,food,housing,etc so please please for the sake of the world go away.

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  10. KD

    But Obama said in one of the debates that he would not require preconditions to meeting with leaders of the world. Now he is changing his mind. Another issue he has flip-flopped on. He really does sound like the candidate who says what you want to hear, but then turns around and changes his tune. Old politics disguised as new politics is still old politics.

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  11. Allen, Lubbock, TX

    Does this guy even have any credibility to accuse anyone of anything. he lies too much for me to trust his judgement! First he lies about the rationale for the war, then he lies about the success of the war, the n he lies about how he quit golf because of the war,, and now he is arguing that democrats are like Nazi appeasers for not wanting to continue a war that he has lied about for 5 years!

    This guy is unbelievable! To think that only a year or so ago, the repubs were in an uprorar when anyone suggested that they were acting like nazis. But somehow it is okay for them to suggest that dems are? Someone please hurry up and get this clown out of office!

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. mcd

    Just when I thought this "man" couldn't become any more disgusting.

    I can't wait till he is tried for all his crimes he and his pals have pulled the last 8 years.

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. antler

    Hmm... let me see... this is same policy that brought about the quagmire in Iraq! Sheesh.

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  14. adam

    destructive words from a destructive man. shame on you george bush for likening democrats to people who allowed the holocaust to take place and allowed ww2 to happen. absolutly inappropriate.

    May 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. Sallie

    Thanks for the history lesson, Dubya. Your method of dealing with terrorists has been SO much more successful!

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  16. scott, lithonia, georgia

    To refer to this as "cowboy diplomacy" is to misunderstand the purpose of diplomacy, This is a cheap shot which disrespects the ocasion at which it was made.

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  17. MIMI

    We are tired of you and your silliness!!

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  18. Michael, an indepedent

    Obama has made his views very clear about dealing with terrorists… has absolutely nothing with appeasement!!!

    Basically, if it isn't a ultra-hard line neocon position, then anything to the left will considered "soft", "appeasing", or "surrendering"!

    What Bush has to understand is that are many ways to skin an animal, and most often, the hard line approach doesn't help, but make things worse. After all, after eight years of his leadership, how would the American public rate his foreign policy and how does the world now view the US?

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  19. Jeff From Jacksonville

    What a laugh. Bush get over it, you and the Republicans have failed this country. America and the world has grown tired of your fear campaigns. Please just shutup.....

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  20. Wrong, Obama!

    This is NOT: “Obviously this is an unprecedented political attack on foreign soil.” It's actually very much the truth. But what is an "unprecedented political nightmare on domestic soil" is your candidacy!

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  21. MelissaMinneapolis

    I can hardly wait until this war mongering president is out of here – any of the three running will be better than he is!

    Every time I travel outside the country the first thing I am asked is, "Do you agree with Bush?" as a litmus test for acceptance.

    Thank God he's a lame duck now.

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  22. SA in OO

    Bush seems agitated, Irritable, Hostile, Aggressive.

    I'm no doctor, but I think he could use 75 mg of Effexor.
    It's a "change he deserves"

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  23. Mike

    We've heard enough from you, Mr. President. You've done enough damage. The world is ready for you to silence yourself. Please, do us all a favor and go work on your golf game.

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  24. DRS

    What our idoit president is trying to do is create an element of fear in the American people that has been successful in years past. Why? Because the GOP are losing traditional congressional districts (Mississippi, Louisiana) and run the risk of losing more seats in the House and Senate. So, what does he do? Claim the democrats love terrorists. Get real, America. Don't fall for it!!!!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  25. Joseph

    Wow... Bush finally made a point with Jewish-American voters. That's actually quite shocking. Personally, I don't think Obama knows exactly what he's talking about if he decides to "have a sit down" with other country leaders who seek to harm the U.S. and other countries abroad. This is where, I'm sorry to say, Obama is flawed. Let's hope, if he does receive the party nomination, he doesn't screw up with international relations.

    May 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
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