/ September 17, 2021
Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should have resigned both for his unauthorized communications with his Communist Chinese counterpart and for his responsibility in the Afghanistan disaster that humiliated the United States and left its countrymen and Afghan allies stranded behind enemy lines, analysts say.
"Milley should already be in serious trouble after his leadership and advice led to the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal debacle," former Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra wrote in a Sept. 16 analysis
for the Center for Security Policy.
Now, if the reporting in the Bob Woodward/Robert Costa book "Peril" is true, Milley "actively undermined the bedrock principle of civilian control of America’s military and directly interfered in the command and control of America’s nuclear arsenal," Hoekstra noted, adding that Milley should resign or be fired by Joe Biden.
In a Sept. 14 analysis
for National Review, Dan McLaughlin explored the implications of Milley's two post-election communications with Gen. Li Zuocheng of the Peoples' Liberation Army. In these calls, Milley reportedly had assured the PLA that the U.S. would not be attacking China, and if events unfolded in a different direction, he would warn them in advance.
Rather than providing unauthorized assurances to Li, there is "a legitimate case for deterring China by strategic ambiguity about our intentions — indeed, that has been the centerpiece of American policy on Taiwan since the 1970s," McLaughlin wrote. He continued: "Trump was much enamored of the Nixon-era “madman” theory that a president might want
to appear a bit unstable and dangerous in order to convince hostile foreign nations to tread more carefully around us. General Milley clearly knew this. Choosing to tell the Chinese that we were bluffing and unilaterally canceling exercises — without involving the president and, so far as we can tell from this excerpt, without involving the State Department or the secretary of defense — is a military seizure of authority that belongs to the president alone. It demands his removal.
"It also appears from the excerpt that General Milley never considered the possibility that Li was playing him for information. Which, again, is why these decisions about how to communicate with the Chinese regime should not be made unilaterally by one general."
McLaughlin concluded: "Any Congress worthy of the name in a democracy would open an investigation of General Milley and push for his removal; any president who took his oath seriously would fire him immediately."
As Team Biden rallies around Milley following the revelations in the book, analysts note that the general's performance in the Afghanistan debacle should have already spelled the end of his tenure.
Milley admitted he had advised Team Biden to give up the strategically-vital Bagram Air Base. He also contended, despite intelligence and independent media reports to the contrary, that the U.S. had no idea the Afghan government and U.S.-trained military forces would collapse so quickly.
"Who knows how many Americans were left behind since the Biden administration will not or cannot provide a credible answer, but we do know that thousands of Afghan allies were left behind and some are systematically being hunted, imprisoned and executed," Hoekstra wrote. "Video also has emerged of Afghan women being abused and beaten by the Taliban in the streets of Afghanistan. Milley also recently stated that Afghanistan could easily become a safe haven for terrorists within 1-3 years, but given how wildly inaccurate Biden administration estimates have been, it is likely as good a guess to say about 1-3 months at the current rate."
"If Milley had legitimate concerns, the proper course of action was for him to resign and publicly state his case," Hoekstra added.
On Aug. 19, the National Review editorial board wrote
: "Events in Afghanistan are devastating, and there’s no reversing them. We aren’t going to be able to make up for the losses to our security or for the great price that will be paid by our allies. But there is something to be done about the corrosive sense that when our government makes massive, avoidable errors, no one is ever held to account. It is within the power of Milley and (Defense Secretary Lloyd) Austin, who have embarrassingly emphasized their powerlessness the last few days, to do their part to restore some semblance of accountability by doing the right thing and resigning forthwith."
While he had no problem undermining President Donald Trump, Woodward and Costa note in their book that Milley is perfectly fine abiding by the chain of command when Democrats are in charge: Milley, for his part, took what the authors describe as a deferential approach to Biden on Afghanistan, in contrast to his earlier efforts to constrain Trump. The book reveals recent remarks the chairman delivered to the Joint Chiefs in which he said, “Here’s a couple of rules of the road here that we’re going to follow. One is you never, ever ever box in a president of the United States. You always give him decision space.” Referring to Biden, he said, “You’re dealing with a seasoned politician here who has been in Washington, D.C., 50 years, whatever it is.”
That makes matters worse, McLaughlin wrote, "as does the fact that major media outlets <em>celebrate</em> a general for undermining civil authority. General Milley knew exactly what he was doing. And he is apparently proud enough of doing so that he told Woodward and Costa. He is a proven danger to democratic self-government, and must go."
According to the Woodward/Costa book, Milley had called his counterparts in the Chinese Communist Party shortly before the 2020 election and then again after the events of Jan. 6.
"It is impossible to know, but certainly begs the question what in the world was this guy thinking?" Hoekstra asked.
Hoekstra concluded: "Chairman Milley, you can continue to serve even though many of us believe your handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal has exposed your incompetence. But when you wear a U.S. military uniform, break the chain of command, undercut the constitutionally delegated powers of the President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of our military, and engage directly with the enemy, there is no option but for you to resign, be fired by President Biden, or removed by the Senate."
Free Press International