A new book by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa contains a singularly startling allegation. In the waning weeks of the Trump administration, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, twice called his counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng, of the People’s Liberation Army, offering assurances that the United States was not about to launch an attack against China.
“If we’re going to attack,” Milley told Li, according to Woodward and Costa, “I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
The surprise turns out to be the revelation of Milley’s actions. Some in the Defense Department may have known about the calls, but one thing seems clear: President Trump, the U.S. commander in chief, did not. Milley acted of his own volition, without prior presidential approval. On that point, Christopher Miller, then serving as acting Defense secretary, is emphatic, describing Milley’s actions to Fox News as a “disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination.”
Providing adversaries with advance notice of U.S. military actions does not number among the prescribed duties of the chairman of the joint chiefs. Arguably, the Woodward-Costa allegations, if accurately reported, qualify as treasonous. At the very least, they raise serious doubts about Milley’s respect for the bedrock principle of civilian control of the military. To state the matter bluntly, when adherence to that principle raised the possibility of an outcome not to Milley’s liking, he seemingly granted himself an exemption.
Read the full article in The Los Angeles Times.