Yes, Milley has to go

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

John covered this story last night, so if you missed that you might want to read it first. The subject, of course, is the bombshell revelation that General Mark Milley allegedly undermined the chain of command, going behind President Trump’s back to cut deals with his counterpart in the Chinese army. Before beginning, I would like to add one caveat to this conversation. All of this, at least thus far, is based on a book written by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, How much credibility you assign to their reporting is up to you. But at least for now, I believe we can take the allegation as factual for one reason. If any senior member of the military had such a scandalous accusation made against them – one that should immediately result in the termination of their military career and potentially some time behind bars – and it was false, they would have immediately denied it in the strongest possible terms and demanded that the claims be recanted. Milley hasn’t done that, so his silence is tantamount to a confession.

With that said, I will simply state that Mark Milley (who honestly doesn’t merit the dignity of being referred to as “General” at this point) needs to resign immediately and a full investigation needs to be launched. Despite his long and admirable service to the nation, this is simply a deal-breaker. I realize that nobody ever gets prosecuted under the Logan Act, but this is one case that simply screams for the attempt to be made. A court-martial would also not be out of the question. Here are a few of the key, updated details from Fox News.

In the book, authored by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa, it is alleged that Milley made two secret phone calls, both to his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army. The book alleges that the phone calls took place prior to the 2020 presidential election on Oct. 30, 2020, and two days after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, on Jan. 8, 2021.

According to the book, Milley contacted Zuocheng after he had reviewed intelligence that suggested Chinese officials believed the United States was planning an attack on China amid military exercises in the South China Sea.

It’s been a long time since Mark Milley attended basic ROTC training at Princeton so perhaps he’s forgotten some of the most fundamental rules of the military. First and foremost among them is that the chain of command trumps virtually everything else. When I attended boot camp, we were given all manner of bizarre orders, forcing us to perform to the breaking point, completing tasks that frequently made no sense at all. It was only later that we realized the reason for that sort of training. The military only works when our troops follow orders, and that’s particularly true when you are going into battle. The moment that system breaks down, the military is broken.

Mark Milley was near the top of that chain of command, but he wasn’t at the top. That position is reserved for the Commander in Chief, as ordained in the Constitution. Undermining the Commander in Chief in this fashion and threatening to break ranks would be unacceptable for any officer or enlisted person, but for someone as far up the ranks as Mark Milley, it’s nothing short of a betrayal to his country. He may not have liked Donald Trump and perhaps he had concerns about his potential plans regarding China or even his mental stability. But those were not his calls to make. If the military had been ordered to attack Chinese vessels or installations, then those targets would have had to be attacked and the President would bear the burden of the results.

I simply don’t understand how anyone else in uniform could serve alongside Milley at this point without either protest or resignation. They should be embarrassed to be seen in his company. But then, Milley himself should be embarrassed enough to do the right thing and take off that uniform and resign his commission. Will Joe Biden have the backbone to take action if Milley doesn’t do it on his own? Or will he be forgiven because his actions went against the Bad Orange Man, so that makes it all okay? This moment will turn out to be a test of Joe Biden’s character and fitness to lead our military. Let’s hope he doesn’t fail this one.