In fact, as late as 2011, overseeing Washington’s wars in the Greater Middle East as the head of Central Command (CENTCOM), Mattis actually proposed a radical escalation, an expansion of the conflict via a direct strike inside Iran. The Obama administration would, in fact, remove him as CENTCOM commander five months early in part because the president disapproved of his proposal to launch missile strikes to take out either an Iranian power plant or an oil refinery in retaliation for the killings of U.S. soldiers by Iranian-backed militias. In August 2010, shortly after taking control of Central Command, Mattis was asked by President Obama what he thought were the top three threats in his area of responsibility, which stretched from Egypt to the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan and included the active war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. His classic (and chilling) response, according to a “senior U.S. official” who witnessed it: “Number one: Iran. Number two: Iran. Number three: Iran.” He will now have a major hand in shaping Washington’s Iran policy.