According to “Peril,” Bob Woodward’s latest pseudo-journalism relying on chatty leakers and other anonymous sources to expose the inside sausage-making of our government, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark A. Milley called his Chinese counterpart before the 2020 election and again after the January 6 riots because he feared that President Trump might start a war with China. From Woodward’s employer, the Washington Post:
In a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa.
One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that unseated President Donald Trump, and the other on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol siege carried out by his supporters in a quest to cancel the vote. The first call was prompted by Milley’s review of intelligence suggesting the Chinese believed the United States was preparing to attack. That belief, the authors write, was based on tensions over military exercises in the South China Sea, and deepened by Trump’s belligerent rhetoric toward China. “General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley told him. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”
In the book’s account, Milley went so far as to pledge he would alert his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, stressing the rapport they’d established through a backchannel. “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.”
1. At this point, we do not know if this story is true. Woodward’s methods in such books have always been questionable. They certainly do not meet the standards of traditional journalism. Former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has called Woodward’s scoop “gossip and innuendo.” That certainly has been routine for a lot of the media “bombshells” related to the Trump administration.
2. If the account is true, then Milley at very least must be fired and court martialed. I would have to check, but I strongly doubt that the conduct meets the legal description of treason. It is still indefensible, as well as illegal.
3. A White House official has supposedly tipped off the press that “several Pentagon officers present in Milley’s secret meeting are willing to testify against him under oath.” This is not confirmed.
4. If the account is true—and I tend to think it is, if only because Woodward would not risk torching his reputation by offering such a stunning story if he had not confirmed it—I will expect the “resistance” types and the most Trump-Deranged Democrats to paint Milley as a hero. This will only further prove that they oppose the rule of law and the Constitution when it suits their purposes. A general defying the chain of command, whatever his excuse, is “Seven Days in May” stuff, and must be punished severely.
5. And IF the account is true, the next person who calls complaints about “the Deep State” sabotaging President Trump a Fox conspiracy theory needs to be shunned for life. The degree to which Trump was undermined by government partisans, foes and villains is unprecedented in American history, and if his opponents and critics had any integrity or respect for our system of government, they would recognize how dangerous the sabotage was, and would take action to expose and punish those responsible.
But they don’t have integrity or respect for our system of government. This has been made clear by their rhetoric and actions since 2016.
I don’t know why I even bother mentioning what they should do.