The United States’ chief military officer called his Chinese counterpart twice to assure him that the two nations would not suddenly go to war in the final weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, a senior defense official said after extracting the talks described in an upcoming book.
Fearful of Mr Trump’s actions in the final stages of his administration, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Gen. Mark Milley told China Gen. Li Zuocheng the U.S. would not strike.
A call was made on October 30th, four days before the election that defeated Trump. The second call came on January 8, two days after the US Capitol uprising, from supporters of the outgoing president.
Mr Trump said Mr Milley should be charged with high treason if the report is true.
Mr. Milley went so far as to promise Mr. Li that he would warn his counterparts in the event of a US attack, according to the book Peril, written by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything will be fine,” Mr. Milley told him on the first call, according to the book. “We will not attack or carry out any kinetic operations against you.”
“If we want to attack, I’ll call you first. It won’t be a surprise, ”Mr Milley reportedly said.
According to the defense officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Mr. Milley’s message to Mr. Li was reassuring on both occasions. The officially challenged proposals Mr Milley told Mr Li he would call him first, instead saying the chairman had indicated that the US would not suddenly attack China without warning – be it diplomatic, administrative or military.
Mr Milley also spoke to a number of other defense chiefs around the world, including military leaders from Britain, Russia and Pakistan, in the days following the January 6 uprising. A reading of those calls in January referred to “several” other counterparts with whom he spoke with similar messages of reassurance that the US government was strong and under control.
The second call was intended to allay Chinese fears over the events of January 6th. But Gen Li’s book reports were not so easily appeased, even after Mr. Milley promised him, “We are 100% stable. All is well. But democracy can be sloppy at times. “
Mr Trump responded Tuesday with a sharply worded statement dismissing Mr Milley as a “fool” and insisting that he never considered attacking China.
Still, he said that if the report were true, “I assume he would be charged with TREASURE because he was negotiating with his Chinese counterpart behind the president’s back and telling China that he would inform them of an attack . . That will not do!”
“Action should be taken against Milley immediately,” Trump said.
Believing the president to have suffered mental decline after the election, Mr Milley agreed with a view shared by House Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi on a phone call they made on Jan. 8, officials said.
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