In a must-read article in The Atlantic, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley — who retires this coming week — opened up on serving in the administration of Donald Trump and spared nothing in his criticism of himself or the Trump administration.
The article notes that Milley spent nearly every day of his 18-month tenure under Trump thinking about nuclear weapons and how to not use them if ordered because he — and others — truly believed that Trump wanted to find a way.
He also believed that Trump represented the greatest danger to our nation during the time after the election until President Biden was sworn in on January 20, 2021.
Indeed, he believed that Trump was so dangerous especially since he knew that the Chinese were worried about an impending attack. He himself worried that Trump might order an attack on China or somewhere else to distract the country.
In one of the bravest acts that I can imagine, Gen. Milley called his counterpart in China. As described in the Atlantic article:
“In what would become his most discussed move, first reported by Woodward and Costa, he called Chinese General Li Zuocheng, his People’s Liberation Army counterpart, on October 30, after receiving intelligence that China believed Trump was going to order an attack. ‘General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,’ Milley said, according to Peril. ‘We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you. General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise…If there was a war or some kind of kinetic action between the United States and China, there’s going to be a buildup, just like there has been always in history.’” (Emphasis added.)
The call has been known about since Woodward and Costa’s book. But Trump must have just learned about it because that paragraph — and many others — set Trump OFF on his Truth Social account:
“Mark Milley, who led perhaps the most embarrassing moment in American history with his grossly incompetent implementation of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, costing many lives, leaving behind hundreds of American citizens, and handing over BILLIONS of dollars of the finest military equipment ever made, will be leaving the military next week. This will be a time for all citizens of the USA to celebrate! This guy turned out to be a Woke train wreck who, if the Fake News reporting is correct, was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States. This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH! A war between China and the United States could have been the result of this treasonous act. To be continued!!!”
No, the problem is that he was dealing with a president who wasn’t thinking, only lashing out. Trump led an attack on the U.S. Capitol instead of China.
Note the “DEATH!”
Given some of the more deranged MAGA fanatics out there, this is Trump practically begging someone to act on his behalf. He knows what he’s doing.
Report continues below two tweets:
Trump’s reaction to the @JeffreyGoldberg profile of Mark Millley – which shows new depths of Trump’s depravity and derangement – is to imply that Milley should get the death penalty.
Trump knows exactly what he’s doing here.https://t.co/F7V9j7DcET pic.twitter.com/wivuuZuZTr
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) September 23, 2023
General Milley, Bill Barr, Mark Esper and John Kelly.
All appointed and praised by Trump, and now all regularly attacked by Trump because they had the nerve to put the country ahead of him.
What kind of person threatens execution on a third-tier social media site? A sad and… pic.twitter.com/A704Y9JF5M
— Chris Christie (@GovChristie) September 23, 2023
In another anecdote from the story Milley tells — one that will make you appreciate the retiring Joint Chiefs of Staff leader that much more — Stephen Miller was vehemently trying to convince Trump that BLM, Antifa, and the rest of the left-wing were “burning the country to the ground and the barbarians are at the gate,” and that Trump needed to use the Insurrection Act.
Milley said, “Shut the f**k up, Stephen. The country isn’t burning to the ground.”
I suspect Milley is thinking, “STFU, Trump.” And we know he doesn’t appreciate the threat.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on X @JasonMiciak.
Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.