The new reveal book about Donald Trump is heating up the minds in Washington. Has General Mike Milley exceeded his powers out of fear of nuclear war?
Worldwide, it was probably the greatest concern during Donald Trump’s administration: A US president who knows how to use the smartphone keyboard in an emotionally charged manner to ignite tweets could possibly have his finger too loosely on the “red button” . What is meant in a figurative sense is the red button with which the president can authorize a military attack with nuclear weapons by virtue of his office. In fact, it is rather “gold codes” that every US president as commander in chief of the armed forces has access to.
But not only the world community seems to have been uneasy about it, but also Donald Trump’s immediate environment. At least that’s what a book by the famous investigative journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa with the title “Peril” suggests. It will not appear until next week, but the whole of Washington is already discussing the passages that have already been published.
The two authors extensively quote Mike Milley, Chairman of the United General Staff of the United States Armed Forces. After the storming of the US Capitol on January 6 of this year, the latter is said to have taken secret precautions to restrict Trump’s legal authority over nuclear weapons.
It is precisely this process that is now heating the political minds in Washington. There are allegations of treason and calls for resignation. Donald Trump has also joined the debate. Even democrats are sometimes critical of the process.
General faces charges of treason
Because of Trump’s outbursts of anger after the lost election and because of the lack of intervention in the storming of the Capitol, he feared that Trump might turn against his own constitution, Milley says, according to the investigative authors. So he told the staff at the Pentagon, “Whatever you are ordered to do, you follow the process. You do the process. And I am part of that process.” Milley is also said to have contacted the Chinese government in order to reassure the government there that no nuclear strike by the United States was imminent.
Was Milley guilty of overstepping his authority and ignoring the applicable chain of command? If everything happened as Woodward and Costa describe it, this accusation is at least obvious at first glance. Because it is not the military who determine the guidelines of politics, but the executive and thus the US President.
The reactions of Donald Trump and his supporters have been correspondingly clear since then – it is again and very welcome ammunition in the fight against Joe Biden. With calls to China, Milley would have acted behind the president’s back. If that is true, the general has committed “treason”, said the ex-president in an interview with the right-wing conservative broadcaster “Newsmax”.
Donald Trump and US General Mike Milley (second from right) in January 2019 (Source: imago images)
“I never intended to attack China,” said Trump. That is completely ridiculous. There has been a lot of anger over trade issues and the “China virus”. The journalist Bob Woodward is “scum” and his colleagues are “cowards”. Trump attributes the fact that Milley spoke to these people to the fact that the general wanted to divert attention from his desolate withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Outraged Republicans, doubting Democrats
In an open letter, for example, the Republican US Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, addressed President Joe Biden and requested Milley’s dismissal. Its “treacherous” and “spineless behavior” represent a “dangerous precedent” which threatens to “tear the principle of civilian control over the military to pieces”. Many other members of Congress made similar views.
More and more conservatives are now trying to portray Mike Milley as an irresponsible general who is said to have conspired with the new main communist enemy, China. Media close to Trump even speak of a “coup”, a coup d’état.
Democratic MPs also appear unhappy with the process, even if they put it more diplomatically. On Twitter, for example, Ted Lieu, MP from New Jersey, criticized: “The fate of the world should not depend on a single general, in this case Mark Milley, who is trying to stop an unstable president.”
With this, Lieu seems to want to initiate a fundamental discussion about the legally established chain of command. This goes back to the ex-US President John F. Kennedy, who had issued the “National Security Action Memorandum No. 272” in 1963 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy wanted to make sure not to be bypassed or cut off from communications in the event of a nuclear attack.
Meanwhile, incumbent US President Joe Biden expressed his confidence in the general at a press conference in Washington on Wednesday afternoon. His government spokeswoman went one step further with her statements to media representatives. You have to put Milley’s behavior in the context of the time, she said. It is a fact that the then US President let the riot in the Capitol happen. Large parts of the security staff were concerned about Trump’s behavior and wondered whether he was still fit to continue in office.
Two anonymous sources also speak in favor of Milley in a report by “Politico”: He has by no means exceeded his consequences. Such calls are not unusual in other countries, nor has the general reassured the Chinese about a nuclear strike.
A spokesman for Milleys confirmed his calls in China as follows: The general had made them as part of his duties. This also included calming things down in order to maintain strategic stability. In addition, the former Defense Minister Mark Esper is said to have maintained such an exchange – apparently also without consulting Donald Trump.
New protests expected at the Capitol.
Discussions about the Bob Woodward and Robert Costa disclosure book and what went on around January 6th are in full swing in political Washington. It is always insightful and also promotes sales. Costa busily tweeted the Amazon link to pre-order the book.
Something is brewing in Washington too. For the weekend, some observers even fear a repetition of the January events. A right-wing demonstration is to take place at the Capitol on Saturday. According to the organizers, it is entitled “Justice for J6” (Justice for January 6th). The police have already announced that they have significantly increased security measures.
As early as Wednesday evening, Washington began erecting barriers around the Capitol. A call from the organizers was meanwhile that the participants should leave any Trump accessories at home during the demo. It should only be about justice for the total of 570 allegedly “political prisoners” who are being investigated by the Ministry of Justice.