Concerned about then U.S. President Donald Trump’s mental state, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, called his Chinese counterpart, twice, to mitigate the risk of a war, according to a new book Peril , by renowned journalist Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of The Washington Post.
According to reporting in The Washington Post, General Milley called the People’s Liberation Army’s General Li Zuocheng on October 30 , 2020 — days before the U.S. general election and again, on January 8, 2021, after the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
The first call occurred after a review of military intelligence by Mr. Milley, which suggested that China was concerned that the U.S. was going to attack it, based on U.S. military exercises in the South China Sea and Mr. Trump’s language on China, as per the Post’s reporting.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Mr. Milley, a Trump-appointee said, as per the report. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”
Two days after a right wing mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Mr. Milley reportedly made his second call to Mr. Li and said ,“We are 100 per cent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”
Mr. Milley also spoke with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on that day, as per a CNN review of the book, and assured her the U.S.’s nuclear weapons were safe. Ms. Pelosi called Mr. Trump “crazy” – a characterisation Mr. Milley agreed with, according to a call transcript obtained by the authors. Mr. Milley then called the service chiefs and CIA Director Gina Haspel and told them to stay alert.
Mr. Milley also, according to The Washington Post’s review, called the admiral in charge of the Indo-Pacific Command and recommended he postpone military exercises (they were postponed). He also told senior army officers that while the President alone could order a nuclear strike, he (Milley) would need to be involved.
As the American press published quotes and passages from the book, social media was rife with views on whether the General’s alleged actions were right or whether he had overstepped his limits. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, wrote to President Joe Biden on Tuesday, asking him to “immediately dismiss” Mr. Milley for his “treasonous leak of information” to China and for undermining the Commander in Chief (the President).
Peril is due to be released next week.