Such changes as I can discern on the basis of a quick side-by-side reading of the two are mostly condensations and updatings.
Huckabee did add the adjective "arrogant" to the phrase "bunker mentality," which has evoked a response from Mitt Romney. But just as that is a caricature of the Bush Administration, so are these responses (predictably) a caricature of Huckabee’s essay.
Once again, I don’t think Democrats would say this:
[M]y administration will never surrender any of our sovereignty, which is why I was the first presidential candidate to oppose ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, which would endanger both our national security and our economic interests.
The Bush administration plans to increase the size of the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps by about 92,000 troops over the next five years. We can and must do this in two to three years. I recognize the challenges of increasing our enlistments without lowering standards and of expanding training facilities and personnel, and that is one of the reasons why we must increase our military budget. Right now, we spend about 3.9 percent of our GDP on defense, compared with about six percent in 1986, under President Ronald Reagan. We need to return to that six percent level.
As president, I will not withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq any faster than General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander there, recommends. I will bring our troops home based on the conditions on the ground, not the calendar on the wall. It is still too soon to reduce the U.S. counterterrorism mission and pass the torch of security to the Iraqis. If we do not preserve and expand population security, by maintaining the significant number of forces required, we risk losing all our hard-won gains. These are significant but tenuous.
Withdrawing from Iraq before the country is stable and secure would have serious strategic consequences for us and horrific humanitarian consequences for the Iraqis. Iraq’s neighbors on all sides would be drawn into the war and face refugee crises as a result of fleeing Iraqis. Iraq is the crossroads where Arabs meet Persians and Kurds, and Sunnis meet Shiites. When we deposed Saddam Hussein, we emphasized the potentially dramatic upside of Iraq’s centrality in the region: the country could be a prime place to establish democracy and have it spread from. Today, we face the dramatic downside: Iraq’s centrality makes the country the perfect place for terrorists to create anarchy and have it spread. Those who say that we do not owe the Iraqis anything more are ignoring what we owe our own children and grandchildren in terms of security.
The Bush administration has properly said that it will not take the military option for dealing with Iran off the table. Neither will I.
In order to contain Iran, it is essential to win in Iraq. When we overthrew Saddam, whose regime was a bulwark against Iran, we upset the regional balance of power. Now, we must stabilize and strengthen Iraq not just for its own security but for the security of its neighbors, the region, and ourselves. We cannot allow Iran to push its theocracy into Iraq and then expand it further west.
I welcome the Bush administration’s new sanctions against Iran and its decision to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and its al Quds force as a supporter of terrorism. (The Democrats who claim that such measures are a step toward war are deluded: these moves are an attempt to use economic power instead of, not as a prelude to, using military power.)
"The process will not be quick," Ambassador Crocker told Congress of the progress in Iraq last fall. "It will be uneven, punctuated by setbacks as well as achievements, and it will require substantial U.S. resolve and commitment." Does this sound familiar? To me, the statement could also have applied to the American Revolution, the American Civil War, World War I, or World War II. We paid a heavy price in each of those conflicts, but we prevailed. And we will prevail now. Our history, from the snows of Valley Forge to the flames of 9/11, has been one of perseverance. I understand the threats we face today. When I am president, America will look this evil in the eye, confront it, defeat it, and emerge stronger than ever. It is easy to be a peace lover; the challenging part is being a peacemaker.
There are surely things to dislike in this approach (as I noted in my previous post), and I too object to the gratuitous slam at the Bush Administration (and appreciate Romney’s defense, even though it was motivated by something other than an effort to identify himself closely with the legacy of the man he hopes to succeed). But no Democrat, with the exception of Joe Lieberman, could have written this article. Of course, Lieberman wouldn’t have omitted in the article this passage from the speech:
Both al Qaeda and Iran seek not just to dominate Israel, but to destroy her and to control the Palestinians. The Huckabee administration would not waver nor flinch in standing by our ally, Israel.
Update: Peter Wehner notes and defends the aspects of the Bush Administration’s record that Huckabee gets wrong. Above all, he’s right that "ungenerous" is not an adjective that should be applied to this Administration. A balanced and extended appraisal of its foreign policy would take note of its AIDS initiative (partly the fruit of evangelical influence) and its efforts in tsunami and earthquake relief, to name just a couple of examples. And Wehner is right to stress the Bush Administration’s efforts at, and successes in, diplomatically waging the war on terror. Huckabee is too quick to draw contrast by caricature. He clearly needs a seasoned foreign policy hand or two on his team. Any volunteers, or is everyone just going to hope that he implodes sooner or later?
Update #2: Stephen F. Hayes goes over some of the same ground, with the same conclusion.