(Jerusalem, Israel) —UPDATED: Iran is ratcheting up tensions here in the Mideast again this week. The mullahs in Tehran are threatening to shut down the critically-important Strait of Hormuz, through which 40% of the world’s oil is shipped. Were they to follow through on such threats, they could cause the price of oil to skyrocket and severely harm the U.S. and global economies. Iran is also planning to test-fire ballistic missile near the Strait. Meanwhile, Tehran is feverishly racing to produce an arsenal of nuclear warheads, has repeatedly threatened to annihilate the U.S. and Israel, and the world is doing precious little to stop them.

Yet this past week Rep. Ron Paul — the front-runner in several polls leading up to the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd — revealed how oblivious he is on the Iran threat and foreign policy and national security more generally:

Several GOP presidential contenders took issue with Rep. Paul over his Iran comments.

  • The strongest and most detailed response came from former Senator Rick Santorum, who called Paul’s approach to Iran “dangerous.”  “Ron Paul is from the Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic Party on national security,” Santorum said, referring to the liberal Democratic congressman who ran for his party’s nomination in 2008. “I don’t think that qualifies as a full-throated conservative.” Santorum went on to tell the Des Moines Register: “Iran’s latest threat, this time to test missiles, to seal off the Strait of Hormuz and block oil deliveries, demonstrates once again Iran’s unacceptable behavior, and the instability created by Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This highlights clearly why we can never allow Iran to have nuclear weapon capabilities. It also reveals the danger of the present administration’s refusal to have a clearly articulated plan for dealing with Iran growing nuclear threat, and their failure of having a comprehensive energy plan that includes drilling for energy right here at home. Even worse, President Obama’s weakness will only leave a power vacuum for nations like Iran and their militant socialist allies in Central and South America to fill. We can no longer sit by and do nothing, and we need a President prepared to once again stand up for American values around the globe. As President I will do just that.”
  • Romney took a milder approach, and didn’t refer to Rep. Paul by name, saying: “One of the people running for president thinks it’s okay for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. I don’t.”
  • Gingrich said, “”I think Ron Paul’s views are totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American….He’s not going to get the nomination. It won’t happen. The people in the United States are not going to accept somebody who thinks it’s irrelevant if Iran gets a nuclear weapon.”
  • Perry said, “You don’t have to vote for a candidate who will allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Because America will be next….I’m here to say: You have a choice.”

By way of context, here’s a look at how I’ve rated the various GOP candidates on Iran in the past.

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