Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made secret calls to his Chinese counterpart in the final days of the Trump administration out of hysteria that President Donald Trump might order an attack.
Milley made two phone calls to Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, according to an excerpt published Tuesday from a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa titled “Peril.” One call occurred on Oct. 30, 2020 — four days before the November election — and one on Jan. 8 of this year, two days after the Capitol riot by a mob of Trump supporters. In each, Milley assured the Chinese the United States was not preparing to strike.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley reportedly told Zuocheng in October. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”
According to Woodward and Acosta, Milley even pledged to alert the Chinese in advance of an impending strike.
“General Li, 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,” Milley allegedly said.
In January, Milley reportedly tried to taper down Chinese concerns about American stability in the aftermath of the riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes,” Milley said.
The American general was apparently provoked by U.S. intelligence that the Chinese believed the Trump administration was preparing to attack, based on contentious military exercises in the South China Sea and the Republican president’s aggressive rhetoric towards the east Asian adversary.
Milley also ordered senior military officers to review protocols for nuclear weapons, reminding each while the president could give the order, Milley had to be involved in the process.
The revelations come at a turbulent time for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff following a botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. While the Taliban were in the midst of a successful blitzkrieg across the war-torn nation, Milley was testifying before House lawmakers that U.S. military personnel needed to be focused on understanding “white rage.”
“I want to understand white rage,” Milley told the Armed Services Committee, “And I’m white.”
Milley also sparred with Trump publicly last summer when the general apologized for appearing alongside the then-president at a historic D.C. church the day after one of the worst outbreaks of American political unrest in decades.