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. Bill Fredericks

    Obama started this with his interview in the Atlantic Magazine where he called Bush out for his "cowboy diplomacy" and he said that our positions towards Israel has not always been a positive in our foreign policy or national security. He talked about how Arabs would naturally feel more comfortable with him in the article. Why?

    Hamas has declared their support for him, Muslims in Gaza are calling voters in the US to lobby for him. Why? Questions about his decisions and positions are important, who knows maybe Bush was talking about Jimmy Carter meeting with Hamas?

    Me think that Obama protests to much. In the interview on CNN his spokesman repeated the term, "cowboy diplomacy" and when he said that Bush outsourced the North Korean issue to the Europeans why didn't John Roberts hit him for that? It was the Asian countries along with the US that directly talked to the North Koreans and I might add have been more of a success then Clinton was who allowed them to ignore the treaty he signed to build the weapons in the first place? Get the facts correct will you please?

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

    Um...Excuse me Mr.President... Can you spell "appeasement"

    Also .. Where is Bin Laden? You have had 7 years.. Now we are in Iraq fighting two wars.. The fear tacticts are over..

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

    Consider the source . . .

    OBAMA '08

    May 15, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  4. Amanda & Adrian for Obama

    Why should anyone be surprised that something stupid is coming out of Bush's mouth yet again. No one takes him seriously anyways.

    May 15, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  5. American Patriot

    President George W. Bush should be Impeached for darlyict of duty, illegal wietpa's,Fraud,Illegally starting a war, firing U.S.Attorneys,Katrina Responce,Pardening Scooter Libby,refusing to allow supenas of staff by envoking executive privlige,insider trading of stock,lying under oath,lying and stating Mission Accomplished,.

    He should not only be impeached, but also brought up on charges of crimes aganst the Iraqi Peopleand torture.

    This man is a Dictator and so is Cheney.

    Congress Impeach this man and prosecute him........................

    American Patriot

    May 15, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  6. Screaming Eagle, Syracuse, NY

    Appeasement is a big word for Bush. That, and the fact he cited a historical event leads me to believe that these comments were obviously written for him.

    May 15, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  7. Marc, Canada

    REPUBLICAN fear tactics. REPUBLICAN spin and smear machine. More BUSH, McCain and ROVE politics.

    Exit Polls are divisive and contribute to racist thoughts....Race would never be tolerated or allowed in exit polls in most democratic countries.

    May 15, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  8. Cesar

    What a shame, using political attacks in his speech, and throwing in the name of bin Laden, I'm surprised he didn't blame bin Laden for the struggling economy & gas prices. I am soooooo tired of Fear Tactics. I voted for him in 2000, but he has deeply dissapointed me not only with his Domestic Policies, but his Foreign Policies also, I think we're down to 2 allies in the world.

    May 15, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  9. -Moore

    Wouldn't it be just like the republicans to try to blast Obama and other democrats for the near suggestion of diplomacy, especially during an 60 year anniversary speech in a foreign country. I believe it was an insult to the country and the people who have been through such turmoil, to have an American take a "campaign shot" during such a tragic event. McCain needs to take a closer look at the connection that his president is making to him. Americans are tired of fear tactics. Remeber the WMD? ......sounds familiar!

    May 15, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  10. Paul Lemoine

    I have to say that George Bush is one ignorant person. He has had his dirty hands in making a mess of this country and the world. Mr. Bush, you have no room to say anything about foreign policy with the way you and your Band of Bastards have killled thousands in this war you created. You do not care about our country or any other country in this world as far as I see. Nice to see you "gave up golf" for our military, another lie as seen on Keith Olberman. You Sir are "A Liar".
    I would keep talking, but you are not worth wasting my energy for. Thanks for screwing up our country and the world. You should be proud!

    May 15, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  11. Issano

    Those comment are so foolish and disrespectful, and must be condemned immediately. Shameful and divisive!

    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  12. Ron L

    I just want to know when did "willing to talk to" became "appeasement". Has there been any other President who have possessed such narrow scope. MAN AM I GLAD I NEVER VOTED FOR THIS GUY.
    You want to know why America has annoyed so many of our allies in the last 8 years. Here is another perfect example of a man with average intellegience once again attempting to REDEFINE words like we are as ignorant of the English language as he is!!


    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  13. Adam

    Hey Bush. What about the obligation to your own people, you idiot? Why is this guy still in office? Are all of you Bush supporters glad that we are the laughing stock of the world. How does a country go from one of the best to the poster child of how to screw everything up. Get out of Iraq, and stop using our troops as pawns in your game!

    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. gail

    I guess Mr. Bush will not mind if Hillary obliterates Iran.

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

    This countries leadership is so messed up and corrupt. What won't they say to get what they want. Atleat McCain is going to try and use terrorism as a reason we should green up this country.

    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  16. afraidNoMore

    I'm glad the American people have seen through the smoke screen and are no longer scared by the republican fear and war mongering. BTW when is DHS going to raise the threat level to show that the US is in imminent danger that only McCain can address?. Or how much closer is Iran to building a Neutron Bomb.

    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  17. Obama supporter

    Bush and McCain govern by fear and the American people are tired of the crap. I would prefer a leader that will give peace a chance instead of wanting to end the world. The Jewish people should work diligently to create peace.

    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  18. DrCats

    I knew this man was low, but I don't know if there is a definition of this level of low...

    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  19. Yolanda/S.A. Texas

    This sounds as though he is back to ustilizing scare tactics on the American people. Bush I am gald to know there will not be another BUSH/CHENEY term or better yet a REPUBLICAN in the white house next yeat.

    It has never been spoken or suggested by Obama or any other Democrat to negotiate with terriost. There has only been remarks to what each candidate would do in the case if Israel is threatened by such acts.

    Please step aside and be quite until your time is up.

    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  20. Tyna in South Carolina

    "Appeasement" equates cowardism. Praise Bush for speaking up for his country! Muslim countries are closely watching Obama's campaign and celebrate each of his victories. If Obama becomes president, this country will become less American. We are the land of the free, and home of the BRAVE! Freedom isn't free.

    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  21. Sam in Indiana

    Bush, your fear card has expired. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  22. Richard

    Big deal. So what

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

    Bush is a coward. Iran wouldn’t be at this strong position in the first place if it was not to his completely failed administration and strategic blunder by starting endless war in Iraq

    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  24. Amused in NY

    With all due respect, Mr. President. Please stop talking now. Do the US and the world a favor - become a mute. I sincerely believe there has been more than enough fear mongering going on by your party, and it should be no surprise that people are not buying it. Know what we are buying, Sir? Lots of fuel that, in my area alone, costs over $4.00 a gallon.

    Instead of trying to scare people into voting for a third term for you (by voting for your older twin) why aren't you trying to do something to help the people? No, I do not want a stimulus check because that money is going to be used for groceries and fuel - why don't you try speaking about the highway robbery happening on those fronts?

    Shame on you, Mr. President. January 2009 cannot come fast enough!

    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  25. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Barbara – 65 yr old white female in NC May 15th, 2008 9:08 am ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Awww – he couldn't even read the words that were written for him – doubt he has the brain-power to understand what the words mean.


    May 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
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