Fearing Donald Trump’s actions in his final weeks as president, the United States’ top military officer twice assured his Chinese counterpart that the two nations would not go to war, according to a forthcoming book.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, told People’s Liberation Army General Li Zuocheng that the United States would not strike. One phone call was made on October 30, 2020, four days before the election that defeated Trump. The second call was made on January 8, 2021, just two days after the U.S. Capitol uprising by supporters of the outgoing CEO.
Milley went so far as to promise Li he would warn his counterpart in the event of an American attack, according to the book Peril, written by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
General Li, I want to assure you that the US government is stable and that everything will be fine, Milley told him during the first phone call, according to the book. We are not going to attack you or perform kinetic operations.
If we’re going to attack, I’ll call you in advance. It won’t be a surprise,” said Milley.
Selections from the book, due out next week, were first reported on Tuesday by The Washington Post.
The second call was intended to allay Chinese fears about the events of January 6. But the book reports that Li wasn’t so easy to calm down, even after Milley promised him: We’re 100 percent stable. Everything is fine. But democracy can sometimes be sloppy.
Milley believed the president had a mental decline after the election, according to the book, an opinion he conveyed in a Jan. 8 phone call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi has previously said she spoke with Milley that day about available safeguards to prevent Trump from taking military action or ordering a nuclear launch, and she told colleagues she was given unspecified assurances that long-standing safeguards were in place.
According to the book, Milley named the admiral who oversees the US Indo-Pacific Command, the military unit responsible for Asia-Pacific, and advised delaying upcoming military exercises. He also asked senior officers to swear an oath that Milley would be involved if Trump issued an order to launch nuclear weapons, according to the book.
Milley was appointed by Trump in 2018 and later drew the ire of the president when he expressed regret for participating in a photo shoot with Trump in June 2020 after federal police cleared a park near the White House of peaceful protesters so that Trump could at a nearby damaged church.
Requests for comment from Milley were not immediately answered. Milley’s second warning to Beijing came after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mike Esper and filled several top positions with interim officials loyal to him.
The book also offers new insights into Trump’s attempts to stay in power despite losing the election to Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump refused to give in, falsely claiming the election was stolen. He repeatedly urged his vice president, Mike Pence, to refuse to certify the election results at the Capitol on January 6, the event later interrupted by the crowd.
Pence, the book writes, called in Dan Quayle, a former vice president and fellow Republican from Indiana, to see if there was a way to accede to Trump’s request. Quayle said absolutely not.
Mike, you are not flexible on this. No. Zero. Never mind. Put it away, Quayle said, according to the book.
Pence finally agreed. He defied Trump to confirm Joe Biden’s victory.
(Only the headline and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)