US General Mark Milley | The Man Between Donald Trump And The Atomic Button
The beginning of the end of the story between Donald Trump and his Supreme General Mark Milley begins on June 1, 2020. A few days earlier, the black George Floyd was killed by the white policeman Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. Protests broke out across the country, including on a street by the White House that was to become Black Lives Matter Plaza. The then President Trump cleared the way and ran from the White House across Lafayette Square in front of St. John’s Churchto hold a Bible up to the cameras. He was accompanied by an entourage that also included Mark Milley. In combat uniform. An appearance that was widely criticized because it gave the impression that the US military leadership was justifying the crackdown on demonstrators by the police. Milley finally apologized, and the chief of staff stabbed his president in the back.
“I shouldn’t have been there,” Milley said later in a video address. “My presence at this moment and in these surroundings gave the impression that the military was involved in domestic politics.” Milley also contradicted the president in the weeks that followed when he publicly opposed sending federal troops to cities in the country to crack down on protesters.
Milley is said to have thought of resigning, but then rejected it. And Trump also stuck to his top military advisor — whom he is now accusing of high treason.
Milley is at the center of a new book by US journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, which, among other things, deals with Trump’s last days in the White House. Officially, Peril (“Danger”) will be on sale this Tuesday, but as is customary, scenes that are supposed to make headlines are distributed in advance. And so Milley delivers one of these scenes. After the storm on the Capitol on January 6, the chief of staff is said to have taken precautions to restrict Trump’s authority over nuclear weapons. Every US president is also the commander in chief of the armed forces and has power over the country’s nuclear codes.
The Washington Post and other media reported that Milley was shaken after the events of January 6th and therefore called a confidential meeting with the commanders responsible two days later. There he wanted to make sure that there could be no military strike without his consent. “Whatever you are told to do, you follow the process. … And I am part of the process,” Milley is reported to have said.
“Democracy can be sloppy”
Concerns over Trump’s possible erratic actions prior to the January 20 handover also led the general, it is described, to make multiple calls.
Milley has phoned his Chinese counterpart General Li Zuocheng twice to avoid fears of a possible US attack. First before the election in early November and then again in the days after Trump supporters broke into the Capitol. “We are 100 percent consistent,” assured Milley. “But democracy can be sloppy at times.”
These talks are the reason why ex-President Trump is now accusing the four-star general of high treason and several Republicans are calling for his resignation. Because Milley, nominated by Trump and confirmed by a large majority by the Senate, was not replaced by the new government. He had “complete confidence in General Milley,” said Biden last week after reports of his actions that became public.
The opposition sees it differently. The Republican Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, sent a letter to Biden to fire Milley because “national security” was threatened. In several interviews, he said the general’s behavior was akin to a military coup. Ex-military officials spoke on Fox News of failure to comply with the hierarchy of command. Trump not only accused Milley of treason, but also called him a “complete idiot” in a statement.
Milley himself spoke publicly for the first time last Friday about the events described in the book. The phone calls with his Chinese counterpart were “completely within the scope of the duties and responsibilities” of his job, he said on the way to a trip to Europe. Such calls are “routine” and serve “in this case to reassure both allies and opponents in order to ensure strategic stability”. The general did not want to comment further. At the end of September, he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were summoned to appear before the Senate Armed Forces Committee. The actual topic of the hearing is supposed to be the Afghanistan withdrawal, but it is now expected that Milley will also comment on the days after the presidential election.
It’s not just the Woodward / Costa book that should be preoccupying the general these days. He is criticized as one of the top military in the country because of the desperate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the subsequent evacuation mission. Milley, who comes from a military family, has served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. “We all feel pain and anger when we see what has happened in the last 20 years and in the last 20 days,” said the 63-year-old at a press conference in early September after the end of the military mission. “I am a professional soldier, I will suppress my pain and anger and accomplish my mission.”
Father and mother in the Navy
Milley’s father was in the Navy and fought in Japan during World War II; his mother was also in the Navy and worked in a Seattle hospital during the war. After graduating from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree, Milley joined the infantry in 1980. In the course of his career he completed a Masters in International Relations and National Security and Strategic Studies and rose in the ranks to Chief of Staff of the Army. Until he was nominated by Trump as chairman for the Joint Chief of Staffs at the end of 2018. At the time, US media reported that Trump found Milley more sympathetic than an Air Force candidate. Politico quoted military circleswho have described Milley’s demeanor as sometimes aggressive and gruff. Something that was well received by Trump.
Relations between the president and the top military are usually rather silent. The public usually only perceives them when pictures are published from the so-called Situation Room with briefings between the President and his generals. Famous is the picture that showed President Barack Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and generals as they pursued the mission that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. At the latest with Milley’s public opposition during the Black Lives Matter protests, the harmony and silence between Trump and Milley was over. This is what they supposed to have yelled at each other in the Situation Room.
Milley retained his own positions under the Biden government. At a House hearing on racism in the armed forces in June, he made it clear: “I want to understand the white frenzy and I am white and I want to understand it … So what is it that got thousands to do this Storming buildings (the Capitol) and trying to overthrow the United States Constitution? That’s what I want to find out … It’s important to our military. “ Milley presented this calmly and clearly, the aggressiveness of some Republican MPs bounced off the general. He will need this calm for his next appearance in front of Congress after the revelations about his role in the final days of the Trump presidency.
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Originally published at https://zaviews.blogspot.com.