Open Treason on Trump?
Headlines of “Treason!” and calls for Mark Milley’s head were just part of the reaction to a new book by Robert Costa and Bob Woodward.
General Mark Milley wasn’t exactly inundated with friend requests after he helped botch the disastrous situation in Afghanistan. In fact, when President Biden said it was on the general’s advice that he closed Bagram Air Base, entire editorial boards were calling for the Joint Chief Chair’s resignation. But long before Kabul, an unflattering picture of Milley had already emerged. His defense of critical race theory and the president’s absurd climate change-as-a-security threat led many people to wonder if America’s top military leader had turned woke. Now, after Tuesday’s bombshells, they wonder if he’s a turncoat.
Headlines of “Treason!” and calls for Milley’s head were just part of the reaction to a new book by Robert Costa and Bob Woodward, Peril. In it, the authors make the astonishing claim that in the latter part of 2020, Milley — appointed by then-president Donald Trump — had reassured his Chinese counterpart that he would warn him if an attack by the U.S. was pending. Worried that Trump was “mentally unstable,” he told General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, “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.”
The stunning allegation that Milley might have undermined American security and gone behind the commander-in-chief’s back came as a shock even to Donald Trump. “So, first of all, if it is actually true, which is hard to believe, that he would have called China and done these things and was willing to advise them of an attack in advance of an attack, that’s treason,” the former president told Sean Spicer on Newsmax TV. Besides that, Trump added, the idea that he would “unilaterally attack China” is “totally ridiculous.”
And yet, Milley was apparently convinced Trump would go rogue — especially after the January 6th riot. According to the book, he called a secret meeting of military advisors and instructed them “not to take any orders unless [he] was involved.” He considered it an “oath,” the authors say.
Within hours of the revelations, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was writing to President Biden, demanding Milley’s termination. “[He] 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 in advance of a potential armed conflict with the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” Rubio wrote. “These actions by General Milley demonstrate a clear lack of sound judgement, and I urge you to dismiss him immediately.”
Imagine, Rubio said later, “if tomorrow General Milley decides, ‘I think Joe Biden is senile, so I won’t follow his orders. I am going to collude with Russia or China to prevent him from acting.’ It is the essence of a military coup, for lack of a better term. That’s what it would equate to.” In all honesty, he went on, “I hope we will have a statement tomorrow from General Milley saying this is an absolute lie and it never happened. The alternative is we live in a country where a general can decide ‘I don’t like what a president is doing. I don’t think the president is in his right mind. I will ignore his warning and collude with our enemies to prevent our president, elected by the people, from taking action.’ By the way, in this case, there is no sign that the action he was trying to prevent was ever going to happen.”
The following morning, there was no such statement — only more incredulity that a man at the top of America’s military org chart could have willingly violated the civilian chain of command. Reaction streamed in from other parts of the Capitol, as Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) demanded a full investigation — "Immediately, today, he should be questioned under oath, if not with a polygraph test, on whether it happened. If it happened, he should be immediately relieved of his duties and court-martialed… We have elections. We can’t have generals overturning elections. That’s what we have always criticized in authoritarian regimes where the military takes over. This is very, very dangerous, and if this happened, Milley needs to be immediately removed of his command.“
Even critics of Trump, like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — who testified in the former president’s impeachment — agreed that insubordination of this kind should be punished. Bob Fu, FRC’s Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom, worried how the Chinese Communist Party could have misinterpreted Milley’s action. Apart from the damage to the U.S. Constitution, he pointed out, "the most far-reaching consequence is that the general’s rogue action could have sent the Chinese a wrong signal to take military action against our ally Taiwan.” If they read Milley’s pledge as a green light to attack Taiwan, he warned, the fallout would be horrific.
As for our own Lt. General (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, he was in disbelief. “One of the most fundamental things our founding fathers gave us was the principle of civilian control of the military. If Bob Woodward’s revelations about General Milley prove to be true then it would seem that he has personally violated that principle and must be held accountable. This is neither a Republican nor Democrat issue,” he pointed out. “It’s a constitutional issue that must be dealt with. Every man that enlists in the Army takes an oath to obey the orders of the President and the officer appointed over them. Milley has apparently breached that oath.”
Originally published here.
Wishful Blinken: Secretary’s Delusions Stun Congress
If it was humility or remorse that Congress expected on Afghanistan, they got neither. In two days of grilling from both sides, Secretary of State Antony Blinken sat through hours of criticism eerily unphased. Even when the embarrassment of the last several weeks was laid out in all of its unflattering glory, Blinken was surprisingly unemotional. The withdrawal, he insisted, was a success. The loss of life, loss of American credibility, and loss of order in the Middle East were just unfortunate side effects of what he calls “the right decision.” And the scariest part, Michael Goodwin shakes his head, is that he believes it.
If that’s the case, then he and his White House are the only ones. Even Democrats were uncharacteristically stinging in their rebuke of the administration. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was blunt: “The execution of the U.S. withdrawal was clearly and fatally flawed,” he argued. “This committee expects to receive a full explanation of the administration’s decisions on Afghanistan since coming into office last January. There has to be accountability.” Did he support the goal of leaving the country? Absolutely. “I have long maintained, however, that how the United States left mattered. Doing the right thing in the wrong way can end up being the wrong thing.”
When pressed, Blinken resorted to the Democrats’ default: blame Trump. “We inherited a deadline,” he said flatly, “not a plan.” Give me a break, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said later. “[The administration] was warned repeatedly that this could spiral very quickly and without warning, and they ignored it, because he wanted a big ceremony on September 11th to brag about how he got us out of the war on the 20th anniversary. And that’s what he did.” Now, retired General Scott Perry (R-Pa.) insists, they have “blood on their hands” — the blood of Americans, the blood of our allies, and the blood of Afghans, who are at this moment being hunted down, tortured, and killed.
“I don’t accept the excuse,” Perry argued on “Washington Watch.” “I don’t accept their blame on President Trump.” They keep saying they didn’t have any choice, he went on. And yet, “they changed the Mexico City policy. They changed our policy on the southern border. They changed our policy [on] the Paris climate accord. They’re trying to change the policy regarding the Iran nuclear deal. They change the policy on Nord Stream two, and the Keystone Pipeline. They’ve been able to change every single policy they wanted to. But somehow this one is all of the fault of President Trump. I’m not buying any of it.”
Neither are a growing number of Democrats, who are desperate to put some distance between themselves and the humiliating failures of Biden. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) insisted she would call for “an independent investigation [into] U.S. involvement in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.” Her Connecticut colleague, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D), who’s been openly outraged about the mess, reiterated that he was “deeply disappointed that there seems to be no plan that matches the urgency and danger of this moment to U.S. citizens and Afghan allies who put their lives on the line for us.”
Some of the biggest blowback came from Democrat Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), who served with Blinken at Obama’s State Department. In an emotional moment, he said the Biden administration “sacrificed everything that was right with Afghanistan.” And that sacrifice, he insisted, “is profound.” “An extremely important counterterrorism partnership was lost, and a terrorism state is now upon us. Enormous gains for women, for the rule of law, for democracy, for human rights. Mass displacement. The Afghans remade their society,” he insisted. “… [But] it was our withdrawal, I’m afraid that has unmade their society.”
And for what, Perry wanted to know? America is more vulnerable now than it was 20 years ago. And the only solution we have to all of this is “we’re going to try to work with the Taliban — and essentially legitimize them?” As we speak, he went on, millions of your hard-earned tax dollars are being sent “to Afghanistan to the terrorists we just surrendered to.” “We just spent 20 years, trillions of dollars, thousands of lives. We left them a billion-dollar embassy and tens of billions of dollars in the most advanced military hardware on the planet. And it’s still not enough. It’s unbelievable.”
For now, anyone hoping for answers on the worst foreign policy disaster in a half-century will have to wait. The only thing we know for sure after this week’s hearings is that “we have a very poor excuse for a Secretary of State,” Perry said, “and an even worse one as president.”
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.
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