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Huckabee Channeled Obama In ’07, Called For Engagement With Iran

"Putting this in human terms, all of us know that when we stop talking to a parent, or a sibling, or even a friend, it's impossible to resolve the differences to move that relationship forward."

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Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told Breitbart.com over the weekend President Obama's Iran deal would lead to a second Holocaust.

"This president's foreign policy is the most feckless in American history," Huckabee said. "It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people. I read the whole deal. We gave away the whole store. It's got to be stopped."

The comments, which many noted seem like an attempt to out-Trump Donald Trump, were met by condemnations from Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama.

Huckabee, however, once offered a different prescription for dealing with Iran. In a September 2007 speech on foreign policy delivered to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Huckabee offered a plan seeking engagement with Iran.

In that speech, Huckabee slammed President Bush for including Iran in the Axis of Evil and called for restoring diplomatic relations with the country.

Here are the nine highlights with the audio of the speech below:

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1. Huckabee noted, "we haven’t had diplomatic relationships with Iran in almost 30 years, most of my entire adult life, and a lot of good it’s done."

"The wisdom of Sun-Tzu, from nearly 2,500 years ago, is relevant today: Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer. We haven't had diplomatic relationships with Iran in almost 30 years, most of my entire adult life, and a lot of good it's done. Putting this in human terms, all of us know that when we stop talking to a parent, or a sibling, or even a friend, it's impossible to resolve the differences to move that relationship forward. Well, the same is true for countries. Our experience in Iraq should prove a valuable lesson for Iran."

2. Huckabee said of Iran, "we have to be as diplomatically aggressive as we have been militarily since 9/11."

"Another way to contain Iran is through diplomacy, while never taking the military option off the table. We have to be as diplomatically aggressive as we have been militarily aggressive since 9/11. We need to intensify our diplomatic efforts with Europe, Russia, China, South Korea, and India to put more economic pressures on Iran. If we end up taking military action, they will be responsible for failing to maximize the peaceful options and alternatives. So far, they've been far more interested in maintaining their trade relationships and making money."

3. Huckabee said "Iran just had to be contained as a nation," and noted that we need to "put other options on the table" with Iran besides the military one.

"We have urgent concerns about Iran's military and financial support of Shiite militants in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas among the Palestinians. We have urgent concerns about Iran's development of nuclear weapons. More is at stake than just Iran going nuclear -- faced with a nuclear Shiite Persian Iran, the Sunni Arab regimes to the west will feel the need to match them.

"The Administration has quite properly said that it will not take the military option for Iran off the table. Neither would I. But if we don't put other options on the table, eventually the military option becomes the only viable one. Right now we are proceeding down only one track with Iran – armed confrontation. Nothing would make Osama bin Laden happier – he would welcome war between the United States and Iran, his two biggest enemies. I try to avoid doing anything that brightens bin Laden's day.

"Al Qaeda and Iran seek control of the same territory – what Iran sees as its potential Shiite crescent is a large part of what would be Al Qaeda's Sunni caliphate from Spain to Indonesia – not just Iraq, but Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. Both Al Qaeda and Iran seek not just to dominate Israel, but to destroy her, and control the Palestinians. The Huckabee Administration will not waver or flinch in standing by our ally Israel. The difference in America's mission is that Al Qaeda must be destroyed as a movement, while Iran just has to be contained as a nation. How do we achieve that?

"To contain Iran, it is essential to win in Iraq. When we overthrew Saddam Hussein, who functioned as a bulwark against Iran, we upset the balance of power in the region. We must stabilize and strengthen Iraq not just for their security, but the security of the entire region, and our own security. We can't allow Iran to push the power of its theocracy westward into, and then beyond, Iraq."

4. Huckabee said we could open "full diplomatic relations" with Iran and give economic relief if they decided to abandon their nuclear ambitions.

"Normally we speak to Iran only indirectly, through the Swiss embassy in Tehran. Our recent direct negotiations about Iraq have been very narrowly-focused and not productive because we are not exploring the full range of issues. We have valuable incentives to offer Iran in exchange for helping to stabilize Iraq; not supporting the Taliban, Hamas, and Hezbollah; and abandoning its nuclear ambitions – trade and economic assistance, full diplomatic relations and security guarantees. While there can be no rational dealing with Al Qaeda, Iran is a nation state looking for regional power, it plays the normal power politics that we understand and can skillfully pursue, and we have substantive issues to negotiate with them.

"Time is of the essence and the situation continues to deteriorate and become more complex. The recent Israeli strike against Syria is said to have involved nuclear material from North Korea. If that is the case, then we know Iran is somehow involved because Syria is an Iranian proxy in the Arab world."

5. Huckabee said the Iraq War was a good lesson for how to deal with Iran -- not having diplomatic relations made getting good information on the country difficult.

"Our experience in Iraq provides a valuable lesson for Iran. We have since learned that when we overthrew Saddam, we invaded an "imaginary country" because our information was so out of date. We relied on exiles who had long since fled the country, who exaggerated the condition of Iraq's infrastructure, the strength of its middle class, and the secular nature of its society. If we had had diplomatic relations with Iraq and an ambassador in Baghdad, we obviously would have had better information. So before we put boots on the ground in the future, we'd better have some wing tips there first."

6. Huckabee noted many Iranians "are well-disposed towards us." He said "when President Bush included Iran in his Axis of Evil, everything went downhill fast."

"Many Iranians are well-disposed toward us. We should remember that on 9/11, while there was dancing in the street in other parts of the Muslim world, there were candlelight vigils and mourning in Tehran. When we first invaded Afghanistan, Iran helped us, especially in our dealings with their allies, the Northern Alliance. They wanted to join us in fighting Al Qaeda, hoping this would lead to better U. S.-Iranian relations. The CIA and the State Department supported this partnership, but some in the White House and Pentagon did not. When President Bush included Iran in his Axis of Evil, everything went downhill fast. As the only presidential candidate with a theology degree, along with years of political experience, I know that theology is black and white, but politics is not. My enemy today on one issue is my friend tomorrow on another."

7. "My enemy today on one issue is my friend tomorrow on another," Huckabee said.

8. Huckabee added that the U.S. couldn't live with Al Qaeda, but could "live with a domesticated Iran."

"The bottom line is this: Iran is a regional threat to the balance of power in the Middle and Near East; Al Qaeda is an existential threat to the United States. I know we can't live with Al Qaeda, but there's a chance that we can live with a domesticated Iran. There is no way Iran will acquire nuclear weapons on my watch. But before I look parents in the eye to explain why I had to put their son's or daughter's life at risk in military action against Iran, I want to know that I have done everything possible to avoid that conflict."

9. "While our failure to engage Iran seems to be leading inexorably to our attacking them, our failure to engage Al Qaeda in Pakistan seems to be leading inexorably to their attacking us again," added Huckabee.

Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at andrew.kaczynski@buzzfeed.com.

Megan Apper is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Megan Apper at megan.apper@buzzfeed.com.

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