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Tag: mark milley

Hands Off General Milley — He Did Nothing Wrong

What Gen. Mark Milley has learned during his most recent years of service is what most Americans have now come to understand about former President Donald Trump. He was always a highly dysfunctional and dangerous leader, or as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi succinctly told the general, "crazy." Treating him as a "normal" president would involve unacceptable risk.

That knowledge had to be a stunning realization for a military leader raised in our country's traditions of strict civilian control of the armed services. When the civilian in control has lost control of himself — and struck many around him as unstable from the beginning — then the burden of averting disaster inevitably falls heavily on flag officers at the pinnacle of the command structure. As the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appointed by Trump himself, Milley confronted the conundrum in the frenzied final days of Trump's misrule.

Anyone who judges what the JCS chairman did must take into account the ominous context of his actions.

According to Peril, the aptly titled new book by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, tensions with China increasingly spooked top officials in the Pentagon as Election Day approached in the fall of 2020. Intelligence suggested that the Chinese military feared a U.S. military strike, ordered by Trump, who was screaming about "kung flu," which could erupt into a catastrophic conflict. Not only Milley but also then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper sent calming messages to their Chinese counterparts, urging them not to "over-read" Trump's belligerent threats during the presidential campaign.

It isn't clear whether Esper or Milley told the irrational Trump about those contacts. Milley has described the calls as "routine" and "perfectly within the duties" of his job.

The effects of their soothing outreach dissipated in the election's aftermath, when Trump's mad and bad behavior attempted the ultimate destabilization of the American order, climaxing in the attempted coup of January 6. Observing the potentially lethal mischief of a deranged president, the Chinese government went on red alert.

Woodward and Costa report that on January 8, as the full dimensions of Trump's assault on our political system emerged, Milley reached out to the Chinese leadership again. He offered assurances that Trump would not attack China and therefore China need not contemplate the launch of any preemptive or defensive attack on the U.S. The Post reporters write that Milley promised to deliver a secret warning to the Chinese if any such attack was imminent — although Axios reports a slightly different version, in which the JCS chairman says, "We'll both know if we're going to war ... there's not gonna be some surprise attack and there's no reason for you to do a preemptive strike."

At the same time, Milley sought to reinforce the safeguards within the U.S. chain of command, which are designed to prevent a nuclear strike by a crazed president who attempts to act unilaterally. Milley reiterated to top generals and admirals that they were not to undertake any military action outside those protocols that he feared Trump might attempt, perhaps through a lower-ranking officer.

Unsurprisingly, Trump is enraged by the revelation of his top general's profound sense of responsibility, which has put on public display again the utter disrespect and mistrust he engendered in every experienced official he appointed. They all knew firsthand that he was absurdly unqualified to be president, his incapacity exceeded only by his frightening arrogance. Beyond the forced displays of toadying by his Cabinet, not one person who observed him close-up thought he was competent or rational.

In Trump's cartoon presidency there were endlessly embarrassing and outrageous moments — and then there were other moments when an unstable narcissist with access to the nuclear codes could have become a threat to the world. If Trump had turned into such a menace, Milley's choices were very narrow indeed.

Milley upheld his oath out of patriotism to the highest degree, contrary to the right-wing banana republic chorus that ludicrously claims he committed "treason." Milley aimed to preserve stability and avoid crisis by following all the protocols. He retains the full confidence of President Joe Biden, for good reason.

Our flag officers are not about to follow the impulses of a real traitor like former Gen. Michael Flynn, the convicted criminal pardoned by Trump, who urged that Trump institute martial law. Gen. Mark Milley did his duty and performed under pressure with composure and honor. He is owed thanks, not insults.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Psaki Bomb Burns Gen. Milley’s Attackers -- Including Trump

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was bombarded by at least six reporters wanting to know if President Joe Biden has confidence in General Mark Milley, after news about a soon-to-be published book claims the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the end of the Trump presidency contacted his counterpart in China to promise the U.S. would not wage war against that country.

Donald Trump accused Gen. Milley of committing "treason" in light of the reports, and Republicans in Congress and others have demanded his resignation.

Psaki effectively nuked all the attacks on Chairman Milley, repeatedly assuring White House reporters that President Biden has "complete confidence" in his Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman.

But she also made certain reporters understood that while Milley was not acting beyond his role, Donald Trump was president and was "fomenting an insurrection."

"This president, this current president, who follows the Constitution, who's not fomenting an insurrection, who follows the rule of law, has complete confidence in Chairman Milley and him continuing to serve in his role."

She also smacked down the question from one reporter who asked if Milley could continue serving given how Republicans are attacking him.

"I don't think," Psaki said, that President Biden "is looking for the guidance of members of Congress who stood by while" Donald Trump, "the leader of their party, fomented an insurrection and many of them were silent."

Military Chiefs Planned Joint Resignation To Thwart Trump’s ‘Gospel Of The Fuhrer’

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Previously released excerpts from I Alone Can Fix It, a new book by twoWashington Post reporters, indicated tension between members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Trump White House. However, additional material released by CNN takes this to a new and terrifying level. According to Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, senior military officers were so concerned that Donald Trump might drag the military into a coup, that they developed a plan to resign, one by one, rather than accept an order to take part in such a plot.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley appears to have been particularly concerned about the idea Trump might simply refuse to leave office, and that in his final days in power, he would use the military to carry out his schemes. Milley, who took part in Trump's Bible-waving stroll across Lafayette Square, was disturbed at how Trump inserted sycophants into key roles at the Pentagon following the election and saw this as a sign of an upcoming attempt to maintain power at the point of a gun.

According to the authors, Milley grew so concerned that he discussed the possibility not just with his friends, but with other generals and with members of Congress. "They may try, but they're not going to f**king succeed," Milley told his staff. "You can't do this without the military. You can't do this without the CIA and the FBI. We're the guys with the guns."

The book also indicates that Milley had specific concerns about Jan. 6. Trump's calls for supporters to come to D.C. for a "wild" event, and intelligence showing that militia members were planning to attend in numbers, left Milley fretting Trump was deliberately "stoking unrest" and that he was trying to create an incident that would justify the use of the Insurrection Act along with military force.

"This Is A Reichstag Moment"

Seeing Trump as a "classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose," Milley became convinced he'd seen this story before. With Trump calling for a "Million MAGA March" following his loss in November, Milley feared it "could be the modern American equivalent of 'brownshirts in the streets." In addition to referencing incidents in which Nazis had used violence to bring Adolf Hitler to power, Milley supposedly referenced the incident that Hitler had staged, then leveraged as a means of using violence against his enemies. "This is a Reichstag moment. The gospel of the Führer."

One of MIlley's colleagues, quoted anonymously, confirmed to him that "this is all real" and warned the general, "What they are trying to do here is overturn the government. ... You are one of the few guys who are standing between us and some really bad stuff."

The book's revelations show a last minute scramble at the White House, with Trump clutching at every conspiracy theory and working to put in place those who might go along with a scheme to defy the outcome of the election. According to the authors, Milley was instrumental in preventing Trump from replacing FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel, with Milley regarding both of those positions as pivotal to the success or failure of any coup.

According to the book, Trump's spiral into darkness was so severe that even Mike Pompeo came to Milley for a "heart to heart" talk in which he complained, "you know the crazies are taking over."

The incidents described in the book go beyond disturbing. They describe a nation well beyond the brink, with a White House actively working to position assets for an end of democracy and military leadership developing a pushback that was not at all certain of success. The revelations are terrifying enough that "shocking" seems an all-too-insubstantial term.

But there is one thing that isn't completely clear. Though the article states that the book developed from over a hundred interviews conducted by Leonnig and Rucker, it doesn't make clear when this information was known to them. If Washington Post reporters were aware in the final days of Trump's occupation of the White House, that he was plotting to keep control of the nation, shouldn't the nation have been made aware? And if there were reports that top military officials were convinced that Trump's actions following the election were intended to generate violence, shouldn't that information have been provided to case managers in Trump's second impeachment?

There are a number of upcoming books on the final awful days of Trump, and the revelations will continue. But the first question these books need to answer is why are we just hearing about this now?

‘If I Was Going To Do A Coup’: Trump’s Bizarre Response To Gen. Milley

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Former President Donald Trump is not pleased with the reports about General Mark Milley's concern that he would attempt a coup after losing the presidential election to President Joe Biden. He lashed out at Milley in a bizarre new statement on Thursday, and it didn't take long for social media users to fire back at him.

In the statement, which included more than 400 words, the former president denied that he ever "threatened, or spoke about, to anyone, a coup of our Government," describing the allegation as "So ridiculous!"

"Sorry to inform you, but an Election is my form of 'coup,'" Trump said, "and if I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley."

Trump's statement came shortly after excerpts of a forthcoming book were made public. The book, written by Washington Post writers Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, detailed Milley's alleged concerns and remarks about Trump's relentless push to overturn the presidential election. Christopher Miller, acting Defense secretary in the final days of Trump's term, has already publicly revealed that he was trying to avoid a coup in that period.

Milley likened Trump's rhetoric and falsehoods about the election to "the gospel of the Führer" and compared the former president's unwavering efforts to overturn the election as "a Reichstag moment" — referring to Adolph Hilter's 1933 attack on Germany's parliament building to solidify Nazi supremacy, according to Leonnig and Rucker's detailed report.

Trump's attempts to weaponize the military were also high on Milley's list of concerns. But despite Milley having legitimate concerns based on Trump's rhetoric and actions, the former president fired back with an insulting dig at Milley.

Taking a verbal jab at Milley's career and accolades, Trump claimed he only appointed the four-star Army general as Joint Chiefs chair "because the world's most overrated general, James Mattis, could not stand him, had no respect for him, and would not recommend him."

"To me," Trump said, "the fact that Mattis didn't like him, just like Obama didn't like him and actually fired Milley, was a good thing, not a bad thing. I often act counter to people's advice who I don't respect."

Trump's lengthy statement has caught the attention of lots of social media users. Some have even taken to Twitter to criticize the former president as they shared endless reasons why Milley's concerns were justified.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Trump’s Pentagon Turmoil Stirs Fear Of A ‘Coup In Progress’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Fears that a possible slow-motion coup is in progress in the United States continued to grow on Wednesday, as observers sounded the alarm over President Donald Trump's decision to install "extreme Republican partisans" at the Pentagon after his firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper resulted in resignations by numerous top officials at the department earlier this week.

The stacking of the Pentagon with Trump loyalists—combined with the president's ongoing refusal to accept his electoral defeat and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Tuesday comment that "there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration"—has heightened concerns about the Republican Party's authoritarianism and left experts and lawmakers warning that the country is in the midst of an extremely dangerous moment.

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To Defy Trump On Confederate Flag, Pentagon Used Loophole

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump, in an obvious effort to rally his MAGA base, has been vigorously defending the display of Confederate images. But on Friday, the Pentagon officially listed what types of flags can be displayed on U.S. military installations — and the Confederate flag, according to New York Times reporter Helene Cooper, does not appear to be allowed.

Cooper reports that under the "guidance" issued by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, "appropriate flags include those of American states and territories, military services and other countries that are allies of the United States. The guidance never specifically says that Confederate flags are banned, but they do not fit in any of the approved categories."

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