Mattis wanted to respond to Iranian war against US troops in Iraq

Washington Post:
Defense nominee urged U.S. strike against Iran during Iraq War

Gen. James Mattis’s falling-out with the Obama administration over Iran offers perspective into how he would lead the world’s largest military and the advice he would bring during sensitive Situation Room debates.
Allowing Iran to kill US troops directly or indirectly was a mistake.  If the US had reacted more aggressively at the time Iraq and the US would have been better off.  There appears to be some in the US government who want to pretend that Iran is not an enemy.  They do not say "Death to America" for nothing.

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