Chief of Staff Milley should be fired, there I said it!
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley has become a controversial person in a position where controversy is a serious detriment.
On the extremes, Milley is either a courageous national hero or a person who has betrayed his duty and trust. Those extreme views are the products of those with highly emotional opinions about former President Trump. The Trump haters love Milley and the Trump acolytes hate the guy.
If you discard the hyperbolic views, there is sufficient evidence that Milley has proven to be a person of poor judgment – and it is a lot more than the current controversy surrounding his actions and statements associated with Trump’s presidency. The current bruhaha is more of the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
This latest controversy stems from a book written by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa entitled “Peril.” In it, the authors not only describe Milley as a man highly concerned that Trump would launch some fatalistic military action as the product of a depraved mind. Milley even called his counterpart in China to assure them that there would be procedures in place that would prevent Trump from launching nuclear missiles on Beijing. He demeaned the United States by excusing the current situation by saying that our system is “sloppy.” His call to his Chinese counterpart after the Capitol Hill riot was disturbingly outside the chain-of-command.
The book reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a hysterical call to Milley begging him to protect the nuclear codes. He assured her that he would. That conversation was inappropriate on both parts – and if Pelosi did not know that the President cannot unilaterally launch the atomic arsenal, she is dangerously ill-informed. More likely the call was just a political stunt.
While judging – and even misjudging – Trump’s state of mind has the subject of a lot of partisan parlor talk, there is virtually no indication that Trump demonstrated the slightest inclination for starting a war. Personally, I think Milley was operating with a “Doctor Strangelove” fantasy in his head – raising questions about his own mental stability.
The General seemed to be operating on an old canard that that was advanced by the left quite often during the Trump presidency. They constantly fearmongered that Trump would “push the button” and launch a nuclear holocaust.
On a couple occasions, I used my commentaries to remind readers that Trump – and no President – has the sole power to launch America’s nuclear arsenal. There are too many safeguards … too many people involved … to many “buttons” to push.
When Milley found it necessary to inform his fellow commanders that they MUST follow the procedures … period … he was telling them what they already knew. He was admonishing them to play by the rules as if he expected they would not. That seems as much a distrust of his military colleagues as it is of the President.
But my headline suggestion that Milley should resign – or be fired – is not just based on this one instance. He has been inappropriately outspoken regarding the Commander-in-Chief – the President – on several occasions. And each time he was asked to confirm or deny what he was alleged to have said, he suddenly discovered silence – something he should have maintained in the first place.
He was adamant when advising Trump to postpone his December 2020 deadline to remove all troops from Afghanistan – and that advice was leaked with Milley as the suspected leaker. He is also believed to be the source of the Woodward/Costa book.
An argument could be made that Milley is a show boater more interested in his public image than the restraints of his military duties.
Not all of Milley’s inappropriate behavior was in opposition to hypothetical actions by Trump. He also did not know his place when he joined Trump on the trek through Lafayette Square to the steps of St. John’s Episcopal Church – that rioters had attempted to burn down the night before.
It was not so much Trump’s visit – which I opined, at the time, was ill-conceived and badly executed – but that one of the top military leaders would accompany him. That was not the role of the Armed Services during an insurrection. (If they label the Capitol Hill riot as an insurrection, we should properly apply that to all those other riots.)
Milley was not there for security but involving himself in a domestic disruption. That is the role for the FBI, the local police, and even the National Guard – with some exceptions. In that case, Milley was roundly criticized by the left – the same folks currently elevating him to hero status. Oh, the hypocrisy!
This last example of poor judgment should be the career closer for Milley. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough applauds Milley’s actions – including his calls to China on the basis that commanders and diplomats often have direct conversations with their counterparts. But with his bias, Scarborough misses the critical point. They normally have those conversations in SUPPORT of the American President and American policies – not to undermine the nation’s Chief Executive or cast doubt on his mental state.
In that, Milley was taking a very narrow politically partisan path – one that is totally inappropriate. He should go. One can recall how General Alexander Haig was lambasted for claiming that he was in charge at the White House when President Reagan was shot. Scarborough and the other Milley cheerleaders took a very different position when it came to General Michael Flynn talking to Russian officials. More hypocrisy?
I do not think of Milley as a traitor – as some contend. But it is fair to say that his judgment has not been very good on a lot of serious matters – and he has too often crossed the line into the political affairs-of-state. President Biden says he has confidence in Milley. Maybe so. But Milley has damaged his own credibility sufficiently to be replaced – and he should be.
So, there ‘tis.