How’s this for a bombshell? Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley allegedly went behind President Trump's back to make secret calls to Chinese military officials promising he would warn them if Trump was planning to attack China. Milley also took other clandestine actions to prevent conflict between the two countries, like making it harder for Trump to launch a nuke at China if he wanted to.
So goes an account from Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward’s latest book Peril about the Trump administration. The Washington Post described the book’s testimony, reporting, “Twice in the final months of the Trump administration, the country’s top military officer was so fearful that the president’s actions might spark a war with China that he moved urgently to avert armed conflict.”
According to the outlet, the book claims that General Milley communicated with General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army assuring him that President Trump’s aggressive stance on the Communist government of China would not manifest itself in an attack against the Asian country.
As The Post explained it, the first of two “secret” phone calls happened only a handful of days before the 2020 election, after Milley had reviewed intelligence indicating “the Chinese believed the United States was preparing to attack.” Chinese fears were brought on due to rising tensions between the two countries in the South China Sea.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley told Zuocheng in late October 2020, adding, “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”
Milley even went so far as to tell Zuocheng that if it got really dicey, he would call ahead to tell them it was about to go down. “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.”
So, let’s get this straight: so our top military guy went and told China he would communicate with them on our military operations without letting the president know in any way? That sounds very serious.
And this wasn’t even the worst part. After the January 6 Capitol Riot, Milley’s precocious foreign policy-making became more flagrant. Zuocheng was fearful of Trump lashing out post election, so Milley made a second call telling him, “We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”
Though, instead of riding it out Milley took it upon himself to try to avoid war. According to Peril, Milley “called the admiral overseeing the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the military unit responsible for Asia and the Pacific region, recommended postponing the military exercises” so as not to further provoke a skittish China. The admiral complied.
And, in an even more underhanded move, Milley instructed the senior officers in charge of nuclear weapons operations that Trump was the only one who could make the call to launch nukes, but made sure they knew “that he, Milley, also had to be involved.”