Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley under fire following new book “Peril”


U.S. Army photo by Monica King

U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, 20th Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, poses for a command portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Sept. 26, 2019.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley is under fire following the publication of “Peril”, a book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. “Peril” details the final months of the Trump Administration and the transfer of power to the Biden administration. In the book, Woodward and Costa detail two alleged phone calls made by Gen. Milley to his Chinese counterpart in order to assure him that the US would not attack China without first giving them notice.

The first call to China took place on Oct. 30, only days before the 2020 Presidential election. In the days leading up to the election, China showed signs of uneasiness, fearing former President Trump would act erratically and order a last minute attack on China. Hoping to ease their worries, Milley called his Chinese counterpart, General Li Zuocheng, and assured him that no attacks would be made on China. 

The second call to China occurred on Jan. 8, following the assault on the US Capitol on Jan. 6. Already cautious of his mental state following his loss in the Presidential election, Milley also feared now more than ever the possibility that former President Trump could go “rogue” and plan an attack on China so as to hinder the transition to the Biden Administration. As a result, Gen. Milley called Gen. Li, to assure that, despite what it looked like, the US government was under control and that there would be no attack on the US’ part toward China.

According to Woodward and Costa, Gen. Milley held a secret meeting in the Department of Defense, where he stressed to senior officials the importance of following proper protocol and procedures in regards to military action. He allegedly ordered senior officials to hold off on any order unless he was involved in them. 

Many Republican government officials have spoken out against Gen. Milley’s actions. While some call for his resignation or for him to be fired, others go so far as to accuse Gen. Milley of treason and providing tip-offs to the Chinese government. 

The Pentagon, Democrats and President Biden have publicly defended Gen. Milley and his actions. They see his actions as necessary given the circumstances and the events that were taking place at the time. Some call Milley’s actions  a sign of true patriotism. While a spokesperson for Gen. Milley has confirmed that the calls to China took place, Gen. Milley  has spoken very little on the matter. He is set to appear before Congress later this month.