Once again, the Bushies have trotted out the appeasement charge, comparing to Neville Chamberlain people who believe that the only hope of getting anywhere with adversaries is to engage in discussions. That Bush made this charge as a guest of a foreign government, especially an Israeli government where many of the members are either Holocaust survivors or their children was particularly undignified, once again degrading the regard in which US is held in the world.
And, of course, the Democrats protested. As I have written on multiple occasions, that response allows the argument to occur on their terms, and they decide whether to desist or not.
Instead, the Democrats should point out that, if Bush wants to find an appeaser (and a coward and patsy, to boot), he should begin by looking in the mirror.
It was none other than former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who said, "you make peace with your enemies, not with your friends". And, for such sentiments, he was assassinated by someone who harbored the perverted belief, not dissimilar to Bush/McCain, that making a peace with adversaries, however imperfect, was treason.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is perhaps our most practiced politician-diplomat who has dealt with our most vicious enemies. He not only adheres to the Rabin doctrine, he practices it. He does not go into those discussions to give something up or compromise our interests. But, he does build trust. That is why the North Koreans called Richardson when they wanted to discuss resolving their dispute with the United States.
Appeasement is surrendering vital interests to bullying and threats. That is what George Bush did in early 2001 when he removed the US Navy from Bahrain when intelligence had picked up al-Qaeda chatter suggesting attacks. That is what he did when, having received the report that the prior attack on the USS Cole was al-Qaeda directed, he decided (if one believes this testimony is even plausible) "not to swat at flies" as National Security Director Rice described their policy of not retaliating for that attack. At all.
Having thus appeased al-Qaeda by scadaddling from Bahrain because of cellphone chatter, and by leaving unaddressed the USS Cole attack, bin Laden must have viewed Bush as the "Appeaser-in-Chief". When he mustered no response to pre-warnings about an attack on the United States -- contrasted with the Clinton Administration's attention to millennium day attack threats that they thwarted -- bin Laden had freedom to operate.
And, then Bush proved himself to bin Laden as a complete patsy by not sending 600 Army Rangers to capture bin Laden when they had him surrounded at Tora Bora.
Refusing to speak to enemies conveys not strength but cowardice and weakness.
Indeed the only foreign policy success the Bush administration has had occurred when they negotiated with a terrorist state -- Libya. They decided -- rightly, even if not happily -- that Libya's nuclear disarmament was worth the price they paid, abandoning the insistence that Libya turn over higher-ups in the Libyan government associated with the PanAm 103 bombing.
Imagine if Bush had remained intransigent, and had refused to speak with Libya until they turned over the government higher-ups. Suppose that Barack Obama suggested talking to Libya, and the outlines of the actual deal that was consummated. Is there any question that today the radical rightwing would launch Chamberlain-Hitler attacks? And would the world, and the US be better off or worse off?
By continuing the war in Iraq -- draining our resources, weakening our military, exhausting our will -- Bush, and his protege McCain, are bin Laden's patsies. Bin Laden has duped Bush and McCain to focusing their firepower and intelligence away from him, and on Iraq. We now know that, in preparation for the Iraq invasion, the US removed two-thirds of its intelligence capabilities from Afghanistan to focus on Iraq.
It is long past the time that Democrats should stop just protesting outrageous Republican rightwing charges. Instead, they should label the true appeasers-cowards-patsies exactly what they are... and they need not await an attack to convey those truths.