^

World

Dubious of Trump's sanity, US general secretly called China: book

Paul Handley - Agence France-Presse
Dubious of Trump's sanity, US general secretly called China: book
US President Donald Trump and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley meets with military leaders and national security team in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC on May 9, 2020.
AFP / MANDEL NGAN

WASHINGTON, United States — The top US general was so worried in early January that Donald Trump was out of control that he took secret action to prevent the outgoing president from sparking a war with China, according to a new book.

Joint Chiefs Chair General Mark Milley ordered aides to not act immediately on any move by Trump to use US nuclear forces, and he called a Chinese general to reassure Beijing, presidential chronicler Bob Woodward and co-author Robert Costa wrote in their soon-to-be-released book.

The Washington Post — Woodward's and Costa's employer — and other media on Tuesday reported excerpts from the book "Peril," depicting Milley as organizing the Pentagon and intelligence community to resist any move by Trump to ratchet up tensions with China or Iran after he lost the November 2020 presidential election.

Milley called Chinese counterpart General Li Zuocheng twice, on October 30 just before Trump's election defeat, and on January 8, two days after Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol, to reassure him that the Republican president's anti-China rhetoric could not translate into military action.

"General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay," Milley told Li in the October call, Woodward and Costa write.

"We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you," Milley said.

Nuclear strike worries

Two months later, Milley used the secret back-channel with Li again after the US Capitol riot, amid concerns both in Beijing and Washington that Trump was unstable.

"We are 100 percent steady. Everything's fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes," Milley told Li, according to the book.

To reassure the Chinese, Milley went so far as to have the Pentagon's Indo-Pacific Command postpone military exercises that Beijing might have viewed as a possible threat.

Separately, Milley told his top staff that if Trump sought to exercise his power to order a nuclear strike, that they had to inform him first.

And Milley discussed with other top officials, including CIA director Gina Haspel and National Security Agency head Paul Nakasone, the need to be vigilant amid concerns Trump could act irrationally.

Haspel said they were in a "highly dangerous situation."

"Some might contend that Milley had overstepped his authority and taken extraordinary power for himself," the authors wrote.

But he believed he was acting correctly "to ensure there was no historic rupture in the international order, no accidental war with China or others, and no use of nuclear weapons," they said.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the book's claims.

Trump lashed out on Tuesday, calling Milley a crude epithet and blaming him for the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.

"I assume that he would be tried for treason in that he would have been dealing with his Chinese counterpart behind the president's back," Trump said in a statement.

'He's crazy'

Milley's second Li call came after the top lawmaker in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, phoned Milley about Trump's state of mind and his rejection — held to this day — of President Joe Biden's election victory.

Two days earlier, goaded on by Trump, hundreds of supporters violently stormed Congress, forcing lawmakers to cancel a session meant to certify Biden's victory and causing lawmakers of both parties to flee.

Woodward and Costa obtained a transcript of the Pelosi call.

"What precautions are available to prevent an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or from accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike?" Pelosi asked.

"If they couldn't even stop him from an assault on the Capitol, who even knows what else he may do?" she said.

"He's crazy. You know he's crazy... and what he did yesterday is further evidence of his craziness." 

The system had "a lot of checks" to forestall extreme behavior by the president, Milley responded. 

Nevertheless, he said, "I agree with you on everything."

Republican lawmakers quickly used the reports to attack Milley, with senior Senator Marco Rubio calling for Biden to fire the general.

Rubio, a defender of Trump, alleged Milley "worked to actively undermine the sitting Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces and contemplated a treasonous leak of classified information to the Chinese Communist Party."

"These actions by General Milley demonstrate a clear lack of sound judgement, and I urge you to dismiss him immediately," he said in a letter to Biden.

"Peril" will go on sale on September 21.

CHINA DONALD TRUMP UNITED STATES XI JINPING
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 10, 2021 - 12:47pm

The US decision to disinvite China from upcoming maritime exercises in the Pacific is "non-constructive," China's Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi says.

"We find that a very non-constructive move," Wang says at a press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after the two met in Washington.

"It's also a decision taken lightly and is unhelpful to mutual understanding between China and the US." — Agence France-Presse

September 10, 2021 - 12:47pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping told his American counterpart that US policies towards Beijing have caused "serious difficulties" and that putting ties back on track was critical "to the destiny of the world", state media reports Friday.

Ties between Beijing and Washington have been strained in recent years by a bruising trade war and America's tough stand on China's human rights track record — while competition over tech dominance and disputes over the origins of the coronavirus have further sullied relations.

In "candid, in-depth" talks with Biden, Xi warned that confrontation between the world's top economies "would spell disaster for both countries and the world". — AFP

July 20, 2021 - 9:35am

The United States on Monday accused Beijing of carrying out a massive hack of Microsoft and charged four Chinese nationals as it rallied allies in rare joint condemnation of "malicious" cyber activity from China.

In comments likely to further strain worsening relations between Washington and Beijing, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the March hack of Microsoft Exchange, a top email server for corporations around the world, was part of a "pattern of irresponsible, disruptive and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace, which poses a major threat to our economic and national security."

China's Ministry of State Security, or MSS, "has fostered an ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain," Blinken said in a statement.

In a simultaneous announcement, the US Department of Justice said four Chinese nationals had been charged with hacking the computers of dozens of companies, universities and government bodies in the United States and abroad between 2011 and 2018. — AFP

June 30, 2021 - 5:18pm

The United States and Taiwan on Wednesday restarted trade talks after five years as Washington moves to boost its ties with the island despite China's objections.

The talks resumed after the two sides reconvened the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council, which under former US president Barack Obama was in charge of finding ways to deepen commercial relations.

The council last met in 2016 before the election of Donald Trump, who switched gears and focused on reaching a mega-deal with China, although relations between Washington and Beijing deteriorated sharply by the end of his turbulent term. — AFP

June 9, 2021 - 7:49am

The US Senate passed a sweeping industrial policy bill Tuesday aimed at countering a surging economic threat from rival China, overcoming partisan divisions to support pumping more than $170 billion into research and development.

The measure, which cleared the chamber on a 68-32 vote and now heads to the House of Representatives, is seen as crucial for US efforts to bolster competitiveness and avoid being out-maneuvered by Beijing as the adversaries compete in the race to technological advancement.

"This legislation will enable the United States to out-innovate, out-produce and out-compete the world in the industries of the future," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. — AFP

June 8, 2021 - 7:56am

The United States will soon start discussing a trade deal with Taiwan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday, risking Beijing's wrath.

"I know we are engaged in conversations with Taiwan, or soon will be, on some kind of framework agreement," Blinken said at a congressional hearing in Washington.

"And those conversations should be starting," he stressed. 

He said that US Trade Representative Katherine Tai would be the one to offer any details on these future negotiations. 

The possibility of a US trade deal with Taiwan is likely to infuriate Beijing, which sees the democratic, self-ruled island as part of its territory which is to be seized one day, by force if necessary, and rages at any diplomatic attempts to recognize it as an independent nation.  — AFP

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with