According to a forthcoming book, the chief of staff of the American army made his deputies promise not to obey an extreme order from the president, in particular on the use of nuclear weapons.
The top Pentagon official was so worried about Donald Trump’s mental state in the final days of his tenure that he secretly took steps to avoid war with China, according to a new book. U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley took the initiative to phone his Chinese counterpart to assure him the United States would not attack China, reporters say. Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, in their book Danger, to be published in the coming days.
According to extracts published by the Washington Post and CNN, General Milley also made his deputies promise not to immediately obey a possible extreme order from Donald Trump, in particular on the use of nuclear weapons, after the electoral defeat of the Republican president on November 3. With the American intelligence services concluding that China considered an American attack imminent, the chief of staff called General Li Zuocheng twice: on October 30, shortly before the American presidential election, and on January 8, two days after the assault by supporters of Donald Trump on the Capitol.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American state is stable and that everything is going to be fine”, he told her on the first phone call, according to this book based on the anonymous testimonies of 200 American officials. “We are not going to attack or conduct military operations against you.” General Milley recalled his Chinese counterpart two months later, after the murderous assault on the US Congress that rocked American democracy for a few hours and as Donald Trump challenged Joe Biden’s electoral victory. “Everything is fine”, he told her. “But democracy is sometimes messy.” In addition, General Milley called the General Staff to stress that if Donald Trump ordered a nuclear strike, he had to be informed first.
What are the possible measures to prevent an imbalanced president from starting armed hostilities or gaining access to codes and ordering a nuclear attack? “
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives
Looking them each in the eye, he asked all the assembled officers to confirm that they understood correctly, add reporters Woodward and Costa, according to which it was a “oath”. He also asked then CIA Director Gina Haspel and Military Intelligence Chief General Paul Nakasone to monitor any erratic behavior by Donald Trump. “Some may think that Milley overstepped his authority and gave himself excessive powers”, write the authors of Danger. But he was convinced he was doing the right thing to “That there is no historic break in the international order, accidental war with China or others, and that nuclear weapons are not used”, they add.
When questioned, the American staff refrained from commenting. General Milley, like Gina Haspel, feared that Donald Trump would launch an attack on China or Iran to create a crisis and thus try to stay in power. “The situation is very dangerous”, said the director of the CIA. “Are we going to attack for his ego?” The second call from the Chief of Staff to General Li came the day after a telephone conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who wanted to make sure Donald Trump, on whom no member of his entourage couldn’t seem to have control, couldn’t use nuclear codes.
“He is crazy”
Hundreds of pro-Trump protesters and members of extremist groups had just attacked Congress as parliamentarians gathered there to certify the victory of Democrat Joe Biden. Attack as a result of which five people died. Nancy Pelosi had publicly reported on this call, in a letter to her parliamentary group, but without going into details. Bob Woodward and Robert Costa publish the transcript of the telephone conversation.
“What are the possible measures to prevent an unbalanced president from initiating armed hostilities or gaining access to codes and ordering a nuclear attack?”, she had asked. “If they can’t even stop him from attacking the Capitol, who knows what else he can do?”, she added. “He is crazy. You know he is mad (…), and what he did yesterday is further proof of his madness ”. “I absolutely agree with you”General Milley replied. But, he assured him, the nuclear chain of command goes through “A lot of controls” to avoid the misuse of the bomb by a president.