The Washington Post published a bombshell report on Tuesday that claims the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, took it upon himself to reach out to our greatest potential rival, China, and offer to give them advance warning of U.S. military action directed against them. Though far from the only violation of Milley’s oath of office revealed in the article, that is enough to warrant the president immediately relieving Milley of duty.
According to Woodward and Costa, Milley feared China might believe Trump would order the United States to attack. Instead of voicing concerns to the President, instead recommending actions that might assuage Beijing of such fears, Milley took matters into his own hands.
He called – without the knowledge of the president or Secretary of State – the commanding general of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. According to Woodward and Costa, Milley told his counterpart, “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.”
For those who don’t like Trump thought his policy judgment was flawed, Milley could come across as a hero, as one who protected the country from an awful fate. That would be shortsighted, however, and miss the true danger of allowing generals to take such powers upon themselves. First, to the point itself, there is no evidence presented that Trump intended, much less took action to engage in a war with China, only that Milley was afraid he might. Thus, the Chairman took action by talking to our chief adversary for something that would never have happened.
The idea of a military coup in America has always been considered so improbable that few would ever take the threat seriously. But acts like these Milley has taken move us dangerously close to a place where some officers in the future might consider it. They would, no doubt, be acting in what they believe to be the best interests of the country, regarding the decisions of a civilian president as representing a danger to the nation, and seize control by removing the president from power.
We fool ourselves if we don’t think that could happen in America. If we allow this continued insubordination of our top military leaders against our duly elected civilian leaders – regardless of whether we agree or strongly oppose any given policy – to succeed, we run the risk of paralyzing our government in a moment of crisis or one day suffering a coup. To forestall that possibility, we need to stop this trend dead in its tracks now.
Milley must be relieved of duty. Today.
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