Obama, Democrats attack of Bush Knesset Speech Reveals Appeasement

President Bush gave a speech on 15 May 2008 before the Israeli Knesset that has drawn condemnation and outrage from Democrats. The most “outrageous” position he expressed – in context – is presented here:

Some of the reactions:

Obama communications director Robert Gibbs said, “Obviously, this is an unprecedented political attack on foreign soil. It’s quite frankly sad and astonishing that the President of the United States would politicize the 60th anniversary of Israel with a false political attack. … We have come to expect, and seen from this administration over the last eight years, this type of cowboy diplomacy. We’ve come to expect it, but over the past eight years it’s made this country far less safe than we were. … I think people are going to ask themselves in this election, are we safer than we were eight years ago, under this president, and I think the answer is going to be a resounding no” (“American Morning,” CNN, 5/15).

A listing of similar cries of angst and outrage:

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 the statement his aides distributed. “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.”

Senator Joe Biden responded with unusual eloquence:

This is bullshit, this is malarkey. This is outrageous, for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, to sit in the Knesset . . . and make this kind of ridiculous statement.”…
“He is the guy who has weakened us,” he said. “He has increased the number of terrorists in the world. It is his policies that have produced this vulnerability that the U.S. has. It’s his [own] intelligence community [that] has pointed this out, not me.

Senator John Kerry said, “[Bush] is still playing the disgusting and dangerous political game Karl Rove perfected, which is insulting to every American and disrespectful to our ally Israel. George Bush should be making Israel secure, not slandering Barack Obama from the Knesset.”

There is no escaping what the president is doing,” said [Dick] Durbin, who supports Obama. “It is an attack on Sen. Obama’s position that we should not be avoiding even those we disagree with when it comes to negotiations and diplomacy.

“I am shocked and, actually, very, very saddened by what the President has done,” [Tom] Daschle said during an interview he gave to Fox News.

“This is an unprecedented political attack that we’ve never seen a president do before.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she, “would hope that any serious person that aspires to lead the country, would disassociate themselves from those comments…

The tradition has always been that when a U.S. president is overseas, partisan politics stops at the water’s edge. President Bush has now taken that principle and turned it on its head: for this White House, partisan politics now begins at the water’s edge, no matter the seriousness and gravity of the occasion. Does the president have no shame?”

What on earth did the President say? I mean, it must have been really, really awful. He must have said that Democrats were all direct descendants of Satan, or that Barack Obama was secretly in direct communication with Osama bin Laden to plot against the United States or something. I mean, it had to be really despicable to generate such a reaction, right?

Wrong. We are dealing with people who have no moral compass, and think only in terms of self-serving political rhetoric.

Here is the statement that President Bush actually made, in context (the full speech is available online):

We believe that targeting innocent lives to achieve political objectives is always and everywhere wrong. So we stand together against terror and extremism, and we will never let down our guard or lose our resolve.

The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.

This struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is the ancient battle between good and evil. The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers. In truth, the men who carry out these savage acts serve no higher goal than their own desire for power. They accept no God before themselves. And they reserve a special hatred for the most ardent defenders of liberty, including Americans and Israelis.

That is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the “elimination” of Israel. 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.

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain their words away. 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.

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. We have heard this foolish delusion before. 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.

Some people suggest that if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of our enemies, and America rejects it utterly. Israel’s population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because America stands with you.

America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. And America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world’s leading sponsor of terror to possess the world’s deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

Ultimately, to prevail in this struggle, we must offer an alternative to the ideology of the extremists by extending our vision of justice and tolerance, freedom and hope. These values are the self-evident right of all people, of all religions, in all of the world because they are a gift from Almighty God. Securing these rights is also the surest way to secure peace. Leaders who are accountable to their people will not pursue endless confrontation and bloodshed. Young people with a place in their society and a voice in their future are less likely to search for meaning in radicalism. And societies where citizens can express their conscience and worship their God will not export violence, they will be partners for peace.

In an article titled, Appeasement, the Democrats, and Shakespeare, posted Democratic Representatives Jim McDermott (Wash.), David Bonior (Mich.) and Mike Thompson (Calif.) going to Iraq to attack President Bush from foreign soil – in a visit that turns out to have been financed by Saddam Hussein’s intelligence service.

He cites former President Jimmy Carter’s statement from England.

And he cites remarks made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she took it upon her self to go to Syria.

Given the fact that President Bush did not name a single Democrat by name, given the fact that his only allusion to any American political figure was an unnamed American senator back in 1939, and given the fact that Barack Obama claims the remark did not in any way resemble his own foreign policy position, why say anything at all? Why all the outrage?

President Bush didn’t attack Democrats or Barack Obama. They attacked themselves, and blamed him for it.

These Democrats shrilly proclaim that President Bush is beyond contempt for attacking them, when he didn’t, and then demonstrate that they are not in the least beyond launching vicious personal attacks themselves. It’s really a quite remarkable act of hypocrisy.

While watching Fox News with Megyn Kelly interviewing an Obama spokeswoman this afternoon, I heard the Obama camp first claim that Bush’s policy of refusing to talk with our enemies was causing political instability, and then almost immediately thereafter claim that Bush had dialogued with leaders of countries such as Sudan to show that it’s Bush – and not Obama – who is dialoguing with enemies. You wonder how these people’s heads don’t explode trying to contain all the contradictions.

Barack Obama has famously said that he would be willing to have direct dialogue with leaders of state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran, without any preconditions. His website says, “Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.” It was a position that her Democratic rival Hillary Clinton repeatedly pointed to as an example of his inexperience and naiveté. It is a substantial departure from the policy of every American president over the last fifty years.

I point out in an earlier article that:

The Bush administration – like all U.S. presidential administrations before it – had the policy of refusing to directly engage with terrorist states and rogue totalitarian dictatorships. Doing so, they argued, gives these states credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of the world while doing little to change their despicable ways.

In other words, by dialoguing with terrorists, we implicitly recognize them, and thereby recognize the acts that they commit. We abandon the belief that some acts are so heinous, and so deplorable, that anyone who commits them should be shunned and reviled instead of being rewarded with recognition and legitimacy. Instead, we tacitly acknowledge that using violence and suffering to advance one’s cause is a valid path to international recognition. Otherwise, we would not have allowed their violent approach to succeed.

In an article detailing Jimmy Carter’s recent visit to the terrorist entity Hamas, Katarina Kratovac wrote the following:

Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who brokered Israel’s historic peace agreement with Egypt three decades ago, is on what he calls a private peace mission. He contends the U.S., Israel and other Western states should stop isolating Hamas if they want peace efforts to succeed.

Heading the Hamas delegation in Cairo were Gaza leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Said Siyam. “This meeting is a message to those who don’t recognize Hamas’ legitimacy as a movement,” Zahar said as he left for Egypt, according to Hamas’ Web site.

In Cairo, Hamas spokesman Taher Nuhu told The Associated Press that the purported Thursday meeting would be “a recognition of the legitimacy” of Hamas’ victory in the Palestinians’ parliamentary election in 2006.

Hamas obtained the desired prestige and international attention it wanted, and gave up absolutely nothing in return, which is exactly what American conservatives and Israelies said would happen.

Barack Obama – and prominent Democrat’s – argument that the President of the United States must be willing to talk directly to our enemies because otherwise there will be no communication and no possibility for compromise or peace is simply a straw man. In reality, the United States has constant lines of communications with countries such as Iran through other countries, through lower level diplomats, and through various other “back channel” sources. A meeting with the President of the United States should be reserved as a conditional reward for abandoning behavior harmful to the interest of the United States; not as a reward for engaging in that very behavior we find despicable.

Do you want to know the real reason why all these Democrats are so livid?

Because – in talking about the colossal errors of the past – President Bush showed why liberals are so terribly wrong in the present.

In a speech by Newt Gingrich which I have available on this blog (under the title, “Fighting For Survival Means Fighting For Truth – by Newt Gingrich”), Gingrich, in discussing what he learned from his reading of a book titled, Troublesome Young Men, says, “And we tend to understate what a serious and conscientious and thoughtful effort appeasement was and that it was the direct and deliberate policy of very powerful and very willful people. We tend to think of it as a psychological weakness as though Chamberlain was somehow craven. He wasn’t craven. Chamberlain had a very clear vision of the World, and he was very ruthless domestically.”

Ultimately, Bush wasn’t attacking Barack Obama or any other Democrat for being willing to speak to this leader or that, even without preconditions. Such is the allegation by Democrats attempting to divert attention to what Bush really was criticizing, which was: the historic tendency to dismiss genuine moral evil on the part of leaders of rogue regimes, and the historic tendency to be all-too-willing to appease to such leaders.

If Democrats truly agreed with these two basic positions, they merely had to affirm that they too embrace these ideas, and will be true to them if elected.

In demonizing Bush’ position, they implicitly proclaim that the spirit of appeasement from 1938 is still alive and well in 2008.

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7 Responses to “Obama, Democrats attack of Bush Knesset Speech Reveals Appeasement”

  1. djdon Says:

    If he isn’t talking about the Democrats, then who is he talking about?

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    Alan Colmes (the liberal radio talk host) on “Hannity and Colmes” – trying to score a point – pointed out to Newt Gingrich on the 15 May 08 broadcast that a few Republicans (one of them was Bush I’s Secretary of State James Baker) had agreed that the USA should talk with our enemies. Newt Gingrich – without batting an eye – proceeded to ask Allen Colmes, “Then why on earth should the Democrats assume the President was talking about them?”

    Gingrich said that Democrats have a massive guilt complex over their incredibly flawed policy, which is why they so horribly overreacted.

    President Bush was describing the mindset that led up to World War II and the Holocaust of six million Jews. To the extent that the same shoe that fit Neville Chamberlain should fit today’s Democrats, they should wear it.

    If it doesn’t fit, they should have agreed with President Bush’s main points and moved on.

  3. djdon Says:

    Again, answer my question: If he isn’t talking about the Democrats, then who is he talking about?

  4. Michael Eden Says:

    Tell you what, read Bush’s speech at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/05/20080515-1.html.

    Find the name of a single Democrat (other than Harry Truman, who receives favorable mention).

    Are you seriously suggesting that the ONLY people in the world who in any way resemble the “appeasement” mentality are American Democrats? There aren’t any of them guys in France? In Russia? (These are the two countries that repeatedly blocked the United States from ANY kind of viable UN resolution because Saddam Hussein was bribing them through the oil for food program). The mentality that George Bush was attacking can be found in lame brains ALL OVER THE PLANET. He was speaking to the world, dude.

    Bush was describing the mentality that led to the policy of appeasement of the 1930s (hence the use of words such as ‘Nazi’, ‘tanks’, ‘Poland’, ‘1939’, and ‘Hitler’). If this description accurately fits the Democrats of today, it is the Democrats themselves who point that out, not President Bush.

  5. Thomas Jackson Says:

    Who is the president referring to when he says this:

    “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. We have heard this foolish delusion before. 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.

    Some people suggest that if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of our enemies, and America rejects it utterly. Israel’s population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because America stands with you.”

    WHO are “some people?” The only “some people” that he could be referring to are people who are slandered by an incorrect assessment of the people who oppose George Bush’s policies. Bush tosses out a straw man and attacks it, and pretends that his critics are represented by the straw man. It’s a cowardly, inaccurate and grossly partisan attack on his critics from foreign soil.

    Worse than being slanderous, it’s incorrect. Democrats do not embrace an “appeasement policy” similar to the policies of Neville Chamberlain, who appeased Hitler by agreeing to give him territory under the threat of military force.

    Nor is anyone arguing that we should cut off ties with Israel, except for people who don’t have a lot of clout in American politics, like NeoNazis and the KKK.

    Oh, and the source of that quote? A REPUBLICAN SENATOR.

    Nobody is suggesting that we negotiate with say, OSAMA BIN LADEN, or Sheikh Omar. Iran is different. Why? Because they are a sovereign state, that’s why. They are UN members, that’s why. They are original signatories of the NPT, that’s why.

  6. Michael Eden Says:

    I wrote a post the day after this one:
    https://startthinkingright.wordpress.com/2008/05/16/the-history-of-past-appeasement-serves-as-a-warning-for-the-future/

    I would argue that the president was speaking against EVERYONE in the world who has demonstrated appeasement characteristics. He didn’t mention ANY Democrats by name (except Truman, whom he praised). Democrats did not have to see themselves in Bush’s remarks. They chose to. In doing so, they embraced the title “appeasers.” I say, let them wear it.

    In an interview that NBC despicably edited, Bush said that he would be glad to talk to Iran – if they abandoned their nuclear program. It’s not the talking that is the problem; it’s talking from weakness, and from weak policies, rather than from a position of strength.

    Obama has said he would negotiate with world leaders without preconditions. That itself is a form of “appeasement,” because generations of presidents have refused to grant leaders engaged in despicable practices such attention. It is a defacto form of recognizing terrible governments, and even legitimizing their conduct.

    It is a stupid position, one that his own Democratic rivals challenged him on at the time he made it. He has backed away from it with a number of nuanced technicalities himself.

    The United States is in constant communication with all sorts of governments via proxies. But we do not legitimize illegitimate governments and illegitimate conduct by state visits that garner tons of media exposure and serve as a forum for despicable views. One of the biggest reasons terrorists have blown up and murdered so much is because they have known the act would get them media coverage they otherwise would not receive.

    I have no idea what remark you are claiming a Republican Senator made.

  7. Thomas Jackson Says:

    Who is a specific, contemporary example of Chamberlain’s appeasement policy? Point to one.

    In your reply to me, you start out by denying that the president was slandering Democrats, and then you go on to label Obama as an “appeaser.”

    Then you go on to say that talking to hostile countries is “appeasement.” It’s not talking to hostile countries that appeases them. It’s making unnecessary concessions to them that weakens our national interests. Name a concession that Obama would give to Iran that would weaken our national interests.

    Iran violated diplomatic agreements during a revolution, and there’s no evidence that Ayatollah Khomeini or anyone else could have reversed the actions of revolutionaries who overran the US embassy on their own initiative. That was nearly three decades ago.

    We stand to gain quite a lot by opening up relations with Iran. Access to their markets, culture and people would be a great benefit to us and to them. Human intelligence isn’t just spying on one another. It’s also gaining an understanding of one another.

    The United States has unprecedented power among the nations of the world. It’s silly to assert that we cannot build understanding, trust and respect among nations by our own example.

    We do not have the fearful position of weakness assumed by incompetent fearful men like Bush and Cheney. When we deign to speak to other nations, we do so from strength. It does not weaken us to communicate and further better relations.

    Tyrants and closed societies have much more to fear from us than we do from them. They have freedom, the rule of law, democracy and free markets to fear, because the benefits of those things will weaken and even overthrow tyrants and closed societies. And not from the use of the American army!

    People resort to terrorism or the crazy policies of terrorists out of desperation. We have a common bond with all human beings, and we need to emphasize those common bonds. Alienation, separation and isolation helps terrorists recruit people.

    In Iran’s case, it is the isolation they endure that has given rise to their proxy warfare efforts! Imagine a better world. Israel and Iran are the two most advanced countries in the region. The Torah has numerous positive references to the Persians. It is possible to imagine a multi-lateral security structure in the Middle East anchored by Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

    Who wins with that arrangement? Everyone! Including the United States, who for too long have supported monarchy in Saudi Arabia. Why MONARCHY? The Iranian Revolution is a republican revolution. The Shia Reformation has as much promise for the muslim world as The Reformation had for Christendom. Do we have Catholic/Protestant wars anymore? NOPE. Why not?

    We need to understand the differences between Shia and Sunni, recognizing the positive and negative aspects of both, IF WE CARE about our fellow human beings who are muslim. John McCain does not offer us the kind of leadership we would need. He has a jingoistic, dismissive attitude that would shoot us in the foot as we try to solve hard problems.

    “Sunni? Shia? Whatever. They’re all terrorists.” That’s his attitude and it’s counterproductive to our interests.

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