For all of you who think President Joe Biden pulled our troops out of Afghanistan too quickly, consider what would have happened if the unhinged guy who preceded him had had his way. According to CNN’s early read of Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s imminent book Peril, Donald Trump signed a secret memo on November 11, right after his election loss, to withdraw our military from Afghanistan on January 15, to ensure that he’d get the credit:
Just eight days after the 2020 election, then-President Donald Trump was so determined to end the war in Afghanistan during his presidency that he secretly signed a memo to withdraw all troops by January 15, 2021, according to a new book, “Peril,” from journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
The November 11 memo, according to the authors, had been secretly drafted by two Trump loyalists and never went through the normal process for a military directive — the secretary of defense, national security adviser and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs had all never seen it. Unpredictable, impulsive, Trump had done an end run around his whole national security team [Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb, and Elizabeth Stuart, “New Woodward/Costa Book: Trump Secret Memo Ordering Withdrawal from Afghanistan Blindsided National Security Team,” CNN, 2021.09.14].
The only reason we didn’t withdraw in January was that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley, acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, and Miller’s chief of staff Kash Patel went straight to the White House to ask National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien what the heck was going on:
“How did this happen?” Milley asked O’Brien, according to the book. “Was there any process here at all? How does a president do this?”
O’Brien looked at the memo and said, “I have no idea,” according to the authors.
“What do you mean you have no idea? You’re the national security adviser to the President?” Milley responded. “And the secretary of defense didn’t know about this? And the chief of staff to the secretary of defense didn’t know about this? The chairman didn’t know. How the hell does this happen?”
O’Brien took the memo and left. While the officials had briefly debated whether the memo could be a forgery, Trump confirmed to O’Brien that he had signed it.
“Mr. President, you’ve got to have a meeting with the principals,” O’Brien told Trump, according to the book, which Trump agreed to do and the directive was withdrawn [Gangel, Herb, and Stuart, 2021.09.14].
Chairman Milley was so rattled by Trump’s impulsive withdrawal order, drafted and issued without consultation with any top military or national security officials, that he thought Trump would launch a rogue military strike to help him cling to power. Milley called his own secret meeting at the Pentagon to forestall that dread possibility:
“You never know what a president’s trigger point is,” Milley told his senior staff, according to the book.
In response, Milley took extraordinary action, and called a secret meeting in his Pentagon office on January 8 to review the process for military action, including launching nuclear weapons. Speaking to senior military officials in charge of the National Military Command Center, the Pentagon’s war room, Milley instructed them not to take orders from anyone unless he was involved.
“No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I’m part of that procedure,” Milley told the officers, according to the book. He then went around the room, looked each officer in the eye, and asked them to verbally confirm they understood.
“Got it?” Milley asked, according to the book.
‘Milley considered it an oath,’ the authors write [Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb, and Elizabeth Stuart, “Woodward/Cost Book: Worried Trump Could ‘Go Rogue,’ Milley Took Secret Action to Protect Nuclear Weapons,” CNN, 2021.09.14].
The previous occupant of the White House was so clearly unstable, so clearly willing to endanger American interests for his own political gain, that the Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff and the soldiers around him were willing to question Presidential orders. That’s not fake news; that’s the very real instability and incompetence of the guy we kicked out of the White House this year and had better never let back in.
A Twitter friend says General Milley committed treason. But is it treason to question the orders of an unstable commander-in-chief?