The idea that he needed to subvert the chain of command and spill secrets to foreign leaders to prevent a rogue nuclear attack is absurd on its face. The system simply doesn’t work that way. General Milley knows it and so does everyone else, making his extraordinary insubordination and potential treason a work of pure vanity and virtue signaling to demonstrate his commitment to the establishment class.
Let’s be clear: The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief and in principle he has the ultimate authority to initiate an attack up to and including nuclear weapons. This power is imparted by the Constitution itself and centuries of tradition. The President’s authority in this regard is absolute. In practice, however, there is no “nuke” button on the President’s cell phone or by his bed as in the hilarious Land of Confusion video circa 1986, wherein an instant nuclear attack is suddenly launched without any checks and balances. Rather, the President issues orders that work their way through the military chain of command. The military chain of command is configured such that officers and soldiers can refuse to carry out an unlawful order, as we can presume a sneak nuclear attack on the Chinese would surely be. Therefore, an erratic or mentally deranged President that suddenly ordered a barrage of interballistic continental missiles aimed at Beijing would not be followed under any circumstances. The proposition is absurd on its face.
These are the facts and General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, surely knows them. He is the highest ranking military officer in the country, well aware the President can’t simply launch an attack on a whim or release nuclear weapons entirely on his own, but that is precisely what underpins all of his concerns as detailed in an upcoming book on the final days of the Trump Presidency. The book in question is Peril, written by legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodard and Robert Costa. It covers the final days of Trump, the Biden campaign and the first six months of his Presidency. According to excerpts released this week, General Milley told Mr. Woodward and Costa that he was so concerned Trump had suffered a mental breakdown and was on the verge of launching an unauthorized attack, perhaps against China, that he was forced to take matters into his own hands and likely commit treason in the process to prevent nuclear war.
To prevent this catastrophe, General Milley took three actions. He conspired with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, gave unlawful orders to US military command and control, and coordinated with his counterpart in China, promising to warn him in advance of an attack. Two of the three are likely insubordination, one is likely outright treason. While some of these events occurred in the few days after the riot at the Capitol on January 6 and General Milley is clearly using the incident as cover, the details aren’t so straightforward. Calls to China were made before the election itself. Ignoring that reality, Woodward and Costa claim General Milley was forced to take these actions because he “was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election, with Trump now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.” He was deeply worried that the outgoing President would “go rogue,” saying “You never know what a president’s trigger point is.”
And so General Milley organized a secret meeting at his Pentagon office on January 8 to review the process to initiate military action, including nuclear weapons. He personally instructed the senior officials at the National Military Command Center to refuse orders from anyone unless he was involved. “No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I’m part of that procedure,” General Milley told the officers. He proceeded to go around the room carefully looking each officer straight in the eyes, making them verbally confirm the order. “Got it?” he asked each one, waiting on an affirmative, “Yes, sir” before moving on. Mr. Woodward and Mr. Costa write that “Milley considered it an oath,” I guess of allegiance to him rather than the duly elected President as mandated by the Constitution.
Simultaneously, General Milley was on the phone with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The Democrat from California apparently inserted herself into the chain of command and demanded to know what Milley was doing to ensure the nuclear weapons were safe, despite no indication they were ever at risk. “What I’m saying to you is that if they couldn’t even stop him from an assault on the Capitol, who even knows what else he may do? And is there anybody in charge at the White House who was doing anything but kissing his fat butt all over this?” Speaker Pelosi continued, “You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time.” “Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything,” Milley responded before springing into motion. He directed his senior service chiefs to watch everything “all the time.” He contacted Paul Nakasone, Director of the National Security Agency, and informed him, “Needles up … keep watching, scan,” and asked then-CIA Director Gina Haspel to “Aggressively watch everything, 360.”
Ms. Haspel, apparently, was on the same page, perhaps long before the riot. She’d previously warned Milley, “We are on the way to a right-wing coup. The whole thing is insanity. He is acting out like a six-year-old with a tantrum” and worried that he would try to attack Iran, once again without any evidence. She questioned, “This is a highly dangerous situation. We are going to lash out for his ego?” The general fear was that Trump would conduct a military strike or cause some domestic incident to declare martial law (or something similar) and remain in office. This is the stuff of fever dreams, pure fantasy without any actual indication anything like this was contemplated by anyone, much less had any chance of being successful, except among the anti-Trump faction of the establishment. Still, General Milley claims he was shocked into this action because Trump planned to follow through on his campaign promise and remove troops from Afghanistan prior to Biden’s inauguration. A secret memo for this order was supposedly drafted without his knowledge and somehow this was an indication that Trump was out of control.
Mr. Woodward and Costa note that General Milley “felt no absolute certainty that the military could control or trust Trump and believed it was his job as the senior military officer to think the unthinkable and take any and all necessary precautions.” Note the use of the word, “control,” as in the military is supposed to control the President, not vice versa. General Milley himself called it the “absolute darkest moment of theoretical possibility” and, as the book described it, “Milley was overseeing the mobilization of America’s national security state without the knowledge of the American people or the rest of the world.” General Milley wasn’t content to stop there, however. In addition to usurping the President’s authority in the United States, he took the additional step of contacting our adversaries in China, both before and after the election, making it clear the claim this was about January 6 is a lie. Milley participated in a pair of secret phone calls with Chinese General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, one on October 30, 2020 and one January 8, 2021. “General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be OK,” he said. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.” On at least one of the calls, he informed the Chinese military that he would leak any plans directly to them before an attack occurred. “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,” General Milley promised General Li.
To say this is explosive stuff is to compare an ordinary firecracker to the hydrogen bomb. Clearly, by his own admission, General Milley’s actions violate the Constitution and every established principle of the chain of command and the military. He took power upon himself that wasn’t his to take, and coordinated with our leading adversary in the world. At a minimum, it’s insubordination. At a maximum, it can only be described as treason, which the Constitution defines as “shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” I don’t want to exaggerate, but what is promising a foreign country we will not attack and, if we did happen to attack, he would warn them in advance anything other than “adhering to their Enemies” and “giving them Aid and Comfort”? To be sure, legal experts I respect like Andrew McCarthy disagree that China would be considered an enemy in this instance. At the same time, if secretly coordinating with foreign leaders and promising them government secrets isn’t treason, what is?
Of course, General Milley sees himself as the hero in this sordid saga, vanquishing the devil that was Trump. Mr. Woodward and Mr. Costa write that “some might contend that Milley had overstepped his authority and taken extraordinary power for himself,” but Milley himself believed they were merely “a good faith precaution to ensure there was no historic rupture in the international order, no accidental war with China or others, and no use of nuclear weapons.” Yes, a good faith precaution to conspire with our enemies and usurp awesome powers to which you have no right. Perhaps needless to say, the mainstream media is, generally speaking, framing the story from the Milley-as-hero perspective. CNN, for example, opens their coverage by claiming that “Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, single-handedly took secret action to limit Trump from potentially ordering a dangerous military strike or launching nuclear weapons” before launching into how Milley was “deeply shaken by” January 6 and was certain Trump had gone into an unspecified mental decline. They describe the General’s actions as “extraordinary” and make no mention whatsoever that they are also illegal, contrary to the Constitution itself and any vaunted democratic norm, until quoting Mr. Woodward and Costa’s lukewarm framing that “some might contend he overstepped his authority.”
Some? According to them he confessed to treason in plain language. Whether you feel General Milley’s fears and actions were justified on moral grounds, there’s no doubt that they were also illegal, dangerous, and likely treasonous. Generals simply do not have the authority to pre-emptively circumvent Presidents and conspire with our enemies under any circumstances. If they did, we would have no civilian control over the military and General Douglas MacArthur would likely have initiated a nuclear war with China in the early 1950’s. Putting this another way, Trump didn’t go rogue. General Milley did.
At the same time, there’s another, more ridiculous and ironic aspect to this: General Milley might be the first person in the entire world to commit treason purely to virtue signal. If President Trump had actually ordered a nuclear attack on China and Milley stepped in to stop it, everyone would give him the benefit of the doubt whether his actions were technically legal or not. Clearly, we can’t have mentally damaged presidents launching nukes on a whim. That’s something we can all agree on, I should hope, but, alas, that’s not actually what’s being said here. On the contrary, General Milley provides absolutely no evidence whatsoever, not even a second or third hand hearsay statement, that Trump was planning or considering any of these things. In fact, the only instance he cites where Trump might have bypassed the normal military chain of command was in service of ending a war, not starting one. From there, we are supposed to surmise Trump was about to nuke a sovereign country for no reason, even assuming such an order wouldn’t be objected to as unlawful.
Otherwise, all we are left with is pure virtue signalling. General Milley uses the preferred language of the establishment to characterize Trump as unhinged, out of control, and dangerous without providing any evidence that was actually the case. His statements could just as easily have been plucked from an analyst on CNN or MSNBC at any point over the past five years as the mainstream media regularly propped up psychologists and psychiatrists to speculate on Trump’s potential mental disorders. General Milley certainly isn’t the first to characterize Trump as having a “mental decline” or being “manic” and creating his own alternative realities. This was the regular chatter of the establishment since he announced his candidacy in 2015.
Beyond subjective assessments of his mental state, the notion of alternative realities, in particular, was a media favorite with Forbes opining on “All The Ways Trumpworld is Crafting an Alternative Reality In The Election’s Final Days.” NBC News claimed that “Trump’s ‘alternate reality’ TV convention tests his beliefs about people.” The LA Times questioned, “How Trump’s alternative universe endangers the American people.” All of these were written before the election. There’s even a scholarly work on the topic on PubMed by GJ Taylor, “Some Comments on the Alternative Universe of the Trump Administration.” The abstract outlines how “The psychoanalytic concept of an ‘anal universe’ is a type of alternative universe in which reality is denied and falsehood prevails. This essay demonstrates how this concept illuminates much of the confusion and distortion of truth generated by the Trump administration.”
In short, General Milley adapts the prevailing language of the establishment and uses it to position himself as a savior, essentially creating a no-risk media firestorm with him as the conquering hero, and, unsurprisingly, they fell for it completely and without question. For example, CNN’s resident propagandist, Stephen Collinson, uses Milley’s words and actions to launch into a diatribe about how the “peril of Trump keeps growing nearly 8 months after he left the White House.” He claims General Milley “laid bare another view into the frightening, unchained few weeks inside Trump’s inner circle around the Capitol insurrection.” The “nation’s most senior military officer believed Trump was a grave danger to the world in the fevered days when he was trying to cling to power,” concluding the “problem posed by Trump is now not an aberrant past presidency — it’s the corrosive impact he could have on the nation in the future.”
Not only does Mr. Collinson refuse to question any of Milley’s claims — not even mentioning how ridiculous the underlying notion is that Trump could’ve simply launched nukes on his own, or voice the slightest skepticism beyond a peon that “if they are borne out,” whatever that means — he completely ignores the obvious point: The real and pressing danger the country faces, as explained by General Milley himself, is an out of control military that no longer adheres to the Constitutional order, deciding for itself, by itself what actions are necessary without any civilian control. If you have ever wondered what the Deep State is, this is it. There are very few dangers more “grave” than the rise of a military state or more “corrosive” than intentional breakdowns in the chain of command and yet that’s exactly what General Milley confesses to of his own free will. It’s insubordination and treason, yes, but it’s done purely for delusions of grandeur, virtue signaling to the establishment that Milley is one of them and is fighting the good fight on their behalf. The administration appears to be circling the wagons around General Milley as well. Press Secretary Jen Psacki made this outrageous statement on the matter just yesterday. “The President has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism, and his fidelity to our Constitution. The president believes he is patriotic. His fidelity to the Constitution is unquestionable,” except when he violates it for his own designs of course.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, perhaps General Milley should’ve spent more time focusing on creating and implementing a plan to withdraw from Afghanistan that didn’t result in an embarrassing rout, the deaths of thirteen service members, and the abandonment of hundreds if not thousands of people. In other words, he should have done his freaking job rather than waste his time virtue signaling and committing treason in the process. Wouldn’t that be nice?