Founding Fathers were concerned the military could become more powerful than the civilian-run government and as such put in place several safeguards to ensure the power of the people wouldn’t be overruled by overreaching, well-armed, well-trained, war-like types.
Enter Mark Milley, and these American foundations face danger.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley seems to have violated these basic Founding Father provisions and if so, he must go. The future of the democratic-republic depends on the ability of the people to trust in its various systems and Milley, at the very least, has placed that trust in question.
According to a book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Milley expressed fears of then-President Donald Trump’s potential to “go rogue” in his executive capacity and so made a couple of private telephone calls to his counterpart in China to say, in essence, “don’t worry, guy, I’ve got your back.”
Milley’s actual words to China’s top general was this — again, according to the Woodward-Costa book: “You and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re [America] going to attack [you — China], I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
If true, Milley basically threw America under the bus and sided with a communist nation.
And if not true — if Woodward and Costa have it wrong — well then, why isn’t Milley making national headlines right now loudly and defiantly declaring the book’s inaccuracies?
The perception remains.
The perceived degradation to the office and uniform remain.
Someone in Milley’s position is required, by military rules and regulations, by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, by the U.S. Constitution, to maintain an above-average reputation that’s rooted in principle and unquestionable faith and loyalty to country. Milley’s shattered that reputation. In so doing, he’s soiled the office.
An incensed Sen. Marco Rubio wrote in a letter calling for Milley’s immediate removal that “more egregiously, reports indicate that General Milley interfered with the procedures by which the civilian commander-in-chief can order a nuclear strike.” How so? Rubio went on, drawing information from the Woodward-Costa book: “He purportedly instructed officials not to take orders without his involvement and forced them to take an oath to that effect.”
How very coup-like.
In fact, that’s classic, textbook definition of a coup.
In America, as founders designed, the military’s top commander is the president of the United States — a civilian. More than that, as founders designed, the military has to be appropriated funds every couple years, so as to prevent standing armies that could eventually become more powerful than the duly elected. More than that, as founders designed, the authority to declare war is vested in Congress, not the commander in chief, and certainly not in the military and top generals.
Some of those protections to the republic have been watered through the years. Presidents, for example, have stretched the War Powers Act beyond intended bounds; Congress has ceded its role as keeper of the war-declaration key; funding for the military is rubber-stamped to the point that standing armies do indeed exist.
But the principle itself is steadfast — despite the politics that have strayed. And the principle is clear, and the principle is this: Top brass members of the military are always — always — accountable to the president of the United States. And that’s because the president of the United States is always — always — accountable to the people.
In America, as founders made clear, as elections continue to make clear, civilians run the government and military, not the other way around. Milley reportedly maneuvered around that point. Milley reportedly sidestepped that system. And Milley reportedly did that because he didn’t like the president of the United States, and thought he himself could run things better.
That in itself is cause for Milley to get the boot. But a top brass American general who would tip off China to a U.S. attack is a traitor to the American cause, to the American people, to the country of America. If that’s true, Milley must be prosecuted.
However this plays in the coming days, Milley has nonetheless lost his ability to lead. Perceptions matter, particularly when dealing with reputations and principle. For the sake of the republic and restoring trust in the system, Milley must exit, stage left, immediately.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE. Her latest book, “Socialists Don’t Sleep: Christians Must Rise Or America Will Fall,” is available by clicking HERE.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.