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. Michael Hovis

    With his approval rating the very lowest in recorded history,
    Bush should just continue his eight scheduled trips out of the
    country before year end and just keep his mouth shut.

    (this President can't perform and work in the oval office, he and Rice
    fly all over the world for photo and lunches. with zero accomplishments at our expense)

    God help the next president , how can any man or Woman fix
    all this damage in just four years?

    May 15, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  2. Kevin, Indiana

    You know, the only reason Bush is still in office, is that it would take longer than November to impeach him.

    May 15, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  3. Michael, an indepedent

    Obama has made his views very clear about dealing with 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 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  4. Oxun

    Bush who? the one person who thought hamas was some sort of middle eastern sandwich?
    I dont know what to say, but that I feel sorry for him he could not tell you a from b, so whatever he says it just does not matter.

    Obama 08

    May 15, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  5. Eke, Greenville

    Politics of fear. It worked in 2000 and in 2004. Now the American people know better and it will not work in 2008. The train of change is moving; it's either you join the bandwagon or be left behind.

    May 15, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  6. Sick&Tired

    Wow CNN is this news? Bush rambling at the mouth about Nazis and Terrorists? And yeah, Obama and the Jews are definitely at risk following his statements? OMG CNN stop finding anything you can to put doubt in the hearts of Obama fans. We aren't falling for it.

    May 15, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  7. Tex

    George is a lamb duck dufus! This is the most moronic, imbecilic statement he has made since he announced "Mission accomplished" five years ago. No one even cares what Geoirge even says anymore.

    May 15, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  8. Michael Dem

    Right W. because you're the authority on intelligent foreign policy. You have crushed America's standing in the world with your foreign policy that encourages belligerance over logic.

    Where the WMD again? Explain to me that Al-Qaeda- Iraq link? Don't you see from the continued preference for Democrats in every Congressional election, even in places like Mississippi that no one is listening to your continued reliance on fear to win votes. How about you try and accomplish something in your last months as President, which would be in stark contrast to your first 7 years in office, which history will juge as a complete disgrace. You have embarrased Americans.

    May 15, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  9. kristen in PA

    yes bush PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep insulting Obama – that will make him even more electable – keep up the good work!!

    May 15, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  10. Lawson

    This lame duck needs to just hang it up! Mr. Bush "Where is Osama?" "Where are the weapons?" "Where are the terror cells operating now?" Lies Lies Lies! We are in Iraq for the OIL and your family's pocket book-

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

    The American Senator that Bush quotes was William Borah, a Republican. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was caught, in 1942, “Trading with the Enemy”. Reagan traded arms for hostages with Iran. So it seems to me that Bush is afraid that Obama is going to behave like a Republican.

    May 15, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  12. Gabby

    Well consider the source.. Enough said.

    Obama 08

    May 15, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  13. Vickie O

    Interesting that President Bush would invoke "history" when talking about appeasement. If he knew anything about the history of the world we wouldn't be in Iraq now. History would have told him that you can't invoke democracy on a People that don't understand or accept the concept . That is their history and it should be accepted as it is! Many of our allies tried to explain that to the President but he wasn't listening!

    May 15, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  14. AW

    ..but didn't the US government draft many an notorious and unappeased NAZI into our intelligence service after the war?
    Alas, George Bush and his blinders.

    May 15, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  15. GO OBAMA

    It has started...THE FEAR CAMPAIGN is about to begin. The Republicans will try to win the White House again by using FEAR antics...go figure!

    May 15, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  16. Sharon Dunten

    President Bush is using the "fear mongering" process again about terrorism to attract votes to the Republican Party. The arrogance of the present administration has led this country into a bully mentality. Barak Obama only wants to soften the hard ridges our country has projected during the past eight years under Bush.

    May 15, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  17. Don

    Exactly how did U.S. leaders appease Nazis in the run-up to World War II? My history books and I would certainly like to know. Franklin Roosevelt, our president then, was hell-bent for war with Germany.

    May 15, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  18. Armando

    Wow, the Repubs are getting desperate

    May 15, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  19. Mike O. - Austin, Texas

    Look at where Bush has left us now and what his GREAT judgement has done to this day, He has the worst disapproval rating, and we are supposed to believe or take advice ??? seriously??? what is he thinking. Actually if the American people really dislike him as much as the polls suggest then he is doing OBAMA a favor. People will do the exact opposite of what BUSH says 😀

    May 15, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  20. blair

    how is this a false political attack? obama has said it and said it some more. Yes he has supported engagement with terrorists. obama has and is using the politics of fear every day. Only he uses the word change to instill fear in the young and minority groups.

    May 15, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  21. Mike in Columbus

    Lets stonewall them instead...

    Look how well that worked with North Korea!


    Just invade... they will welcome us with Flowers!

    More Bush '08... cough, gag, puke!

    May 15, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  22. Lorna, NY

    He's an idiot! I can't wait for 1/20/09!

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

    Bush should concentrate more on cleaning up the white house for President Obama or help his daughter to plan her honeymoon rather than engaging in senseless political talks. He has caused enough damages to mankind in the last eight years!!

    Just shut, u are an idiot!

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

    This coming from the man who back in 2000 wanted to have little or nothing to do with the Middle EAST. Yet when he saw that he couldn't avoid it, he fell right inline like all the others before him on the issue!!!

    Bush has and always will be an idiot President!!!
    The guy is the worst President this country has every had!!!
    Bush go sit DOWN!!!

    May 15, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  25. CW in DC

    CNN needs a giant Bush countdown ticker on the front page bigger than anything else on their website. I would keep it on my desktop all day everyday. I'm not even going to let myself be fazed by this idiot of a president anymore. We already see where HIS foreign policy has gotten us.

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