If the latest book by the legendary American journalist is called Danger, this is for a good reason. The top Pentagon official was so worried Donald Trump’s mental state in the last days of his mandate, especially after the attack on the Capitol, that he secretly took steps to avoid war with China, or that the US president could not order a nuclear strike without being informed.
The Chief of Staff of the United States Army, General Mark Milley, telephoned his Chinese counterpart to assure him that the United States would not attack China, say the journalists of the Washington post, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, to be released in the coming days.
According to extracts published by the Washington post and CNN, General Milley also made his deputies promise not to immediately obey a possible extreme order from Donald Trump, in particular on the use of nuclear weapons, after the electoral defeat of the Republican president on November 3.
“Democracy is messy”
With the American intelligence services concluding that China considered an American attack imminent, the chief of staff called General Li Zuocheng twice: on October 30, shortly before the American presidential election, and on January 8, two days after the assault by supporters of Donald Trump on the Capitol.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American state is stable and that everything will be fine,” he told her on the first phone call, according to this book based on the anonymous testimonies of 200 American officials. . “We are not going to attack or conduct military operations against you.”
General Milley recalled his Chinese counterpart two months later, after the deadly assault on the US Congress that rocked US democracy and as Donald Trump challenged Joe Biden’s electoral victory. “Everything is fine,” he told her. “But democracy is sometimes messy.”
In addition, General Milley convened the General Staff to stress that, if Donald Trump ordered a nuclear strike, he had to be informed first. He asked all the officers gathered to confirm that they understood correctly, add reporters Woodward and Costa, according to which it was an “oath”.
Preserving “international order”
He also asked then CIA Director Gina Haspel and Military Intelligence Chief General Paul Nakasone to monitor any erratic behavior by Donald Trump.
“Some may think that Milley overstepped his authority and assigned himself excessive powers,” write the authors of “Peril”. But he was convinced that he was doing what was necessary “so that there is no historic rupture in the international order, of accidental war with China or others, and that nuclear weapons do not. is not used, ”they add.
When questioned, the American staff refrained from commenting. But Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio was outraged at General Milley’s actions, calling on Joe Biden to “immediately” remove the chief of staff from office.
“General Milley tried to justify his behavior by asserting that the military judgment was more balanced than that of the civilian command,” Rubio wrote in an open letter. “It is a dangerous precedent that could be used in the future by General Milley or others,” he adds. “This risks shattering the well-established principle in our country of civilian control over the military.”
” He is crazy “
General Milley, like Gina Haspel, feared that Donald Trump would launch an attack on China or Iran to create a crisis and thus try to stay in power. “The situation is very dangerous,” said the director of the CIA. “Are we going to attack for his ego?” “
The Chief of Staff’s second call to General Li came the day after a phone conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who wanted to make sure Donald Trump could not use nuclear codes.
Hundreds of pro-Trump protesters and members of extremist groups had just attacked Congress as parliamentarians gathered to certify Joe Biden’s victory. Attack as a result of which five people died.
“What are the possible measures to prevent an unbalanced president from starting armed hostilities or from having access to codes and ordering a nuclear attack,” Nancy Pelosi asked. “If they can’t even stop him from attacking the Capitol, who knows what else he can do?” She adds. ” He is crazy. You know he is mad (…), and what he did yesterday is further proof of his madness ”.
“I completely agree with you,” General Milley replied. But, he assures him, the nuclear chain of command goes through “a lot of controls” to avoid the misuse of the bomb by a president.