Bush appeasement comment stirs up U.S. political race
WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush stirred up the U.S. presidential campaign Thursday by suggesting that Democratic front-runner Barack Obama’s pledge to talk to Iran’s leader amounted to “the false comfort of appeasement.”
“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 in a speech to the Israeli parliament marking Israel’s 60th anniversary.
Without mentioning Obama by name, he compared “this foolish delusion” to the appeasement of the Nazis ahead of World War Two.
“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,” Bush said.
The remark drew swift response from Obama, who argues the United States blunders by refusing to talk to the leaders of hostile nations like Iran, Syria and Cuba.
“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.
“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,” he said.
Republican candidate John McCain criticized Obama’s pledge to speak directly to U.S. foes, saying “it shows naivete and inexperience and lack of judgment” to consider sitting down with a country like Iran that wants to destroy Israel. “My question is, what does he want to talk about?” McCain said.
Not everyone in Bush’s administration is opposed to talking to Iran. Defense Secretary Robert Gates offered his own ideas just a day before the president’s Knesset speech, telling a diplomatic forum: “We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage with respect to the Iranians and then sit down and talk with them.”