Loose talk: Bush raises the specter of appeasement

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President Bush didn't have to mention Neville Chamberlain by name in a speech before the Israeli Knesset last Thursday. The British prime minister whose appeasement of the Nazis in 1938 was there in spirit.

Similarly, Mr. Bush didn't have to name Sen. Barack Obama to link Mr. Chamberlain and the Democratic presidential front-runner.

"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," Mr. Bush said in a speech marking Israel's 60th birthday.

"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."

Does this unnamed American senator from the 1930s sound like anyone the GOP has been criticizing lately? Perhaps Mr. Obama, who has been called the preferred candidate of Hamas by Sen. John McCain, the Republicans' presumptive nominee.

During a Democratic debate last year, Mr. Obama signaled his willingness to talk with North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Iran without preconditions. After years of failed unilateral action and cowboy diplomacy Bush-style, it's hard to argue that a more civil approach to the nation's enemies wouldn't be more successful. Mr. Obama denounced the Bush and McCain comments on Friday.

No doubt Mr. Bush believes he's being clever by invoking the example of Idaho Sen. William Borah, a Hitler apologist, without naming his party. Who would guess that the appeaser Mr. Bush spoke of was a Republican?

It's a shame Mr. Bush, with his 28 percent approval rating, stooped to making domestic political attacks from Israel. As the architect of a foreign policy that has made America economically and militarily vulnerable, Mr. Bush is in no position to criticize.


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