Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

1
Twice in the final months of the Trump administration, the country’s top military officer was so fearful that the president’s actions might spark a war with China that he moved urgently to avert armed conflict.

In a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa.

One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that unseated President Trump, and the other on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol siege carried out by his supporters in a quest to cancel the vote.

The first call was prompted by Milley’s review of intelligence suggesting the Chinese believed the United States was preparing to attack. That belief, the authors write, was based on tensions over military exercises in the South China Sea, and deepened by Trump’s belligerent rhetoric toward China.

“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley told him. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

In the book’s account, Milley went so far as to pledge he would alert his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, stressing the rapport they’d established through a backchannel. “General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”

Li took the chairman at his word, the authors write in the book, “Peril,” which is set to be released next week.

In the second call, placed to address Chinese fears about the events of Jan. 6, Li wasn’t as easily assuaged, even after Milley promised him, “We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”

Li remained rattled, and Milley, who did not relay the conversation to Trump, according to the book, understood why. The chairman, 62 at the time and chosen by Trump in 2018, believed the president had suffered a mental decline after the election, the authors write, a view he communicated to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a phone call on Jan. 8. He agreed with her evaluation that Trump was unstable, according to a call transcript obtained by the authors.

Believing that China could lash out if it felt at risk from an unpredictable and vengeful American president, Milley took action. The same day, he called the admiral overseeing the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the military unit responsible for Asia and the Pacific region, and recommended postponing the military exercises, according to the book. The admiral complied.

Milley also summoned senior officers to review the procedures for launching nuclear weapons, saying the president alone could give the order — but, crucially, that he, Milley, also had to be involved. Looking each in the eye, Milley asked the officers to affirm that they had understood, the authors write, in what he considered an “oath.”

The chairman knew that he was “pulling a Schlesinger,” the authors write, resorting to measures resembling the ones taken in August 1974 by James R. Schlesinger, the secretary of defense at the time. Schlesinger told military officials to check with him and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs before carrying out orders from President Richard M. Nixon, who was facing impeachment at the time.

Though Milley went furthest in seeking to stave off a national security crisis, his alarm was shared throughout the highest ranks of the administration, the authors reveal. CIA Director Gina Haspel, for instance, reportedly told Milley, “We are on the way to a right-wing coup.”

The book also provides new reporting on President Biden’s campaign — waged to unseat a man he told a top adviser “isn’t really an American president” — and his early struggle to govern. During a March 5 phone call to discuss Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, his first major legislative undertaking, the president reportedly told Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va), “if you don’t come along, you’re really f---ing me.” The measure ultimately cleared the Senate through an elaborate sequencing of amendments designed to satisfy the centrist Democrat.

The president’s frustration with Manchin is matched only by his debt to House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, whose endorsement before that state’s primary propelled Biden to the nomination and gave rise to promises about how he would govern.

When Clyburn offered his endorsement in February 2020, it came with conditions, according to the book. One was that Biden would commit to naming a Black woman to the Supreme Court, if given the opportunity. During a debate two days later, Clyburn went backstage during a break to urge Biden to reveal his intentions for the Supreme Court that night. Biden issued the pledge in his final answer, and the congressman endorsed him the next day.

“Peril,” the authors say, is based on interviews with more than 200 people, conducted on the condition they not be named as sources. Exact quotations or conclusions are drawn from the participant in the described event, a colleague with direct knowledge or relevant documents, according to an author’s note. Trump and Biden declined to be interviewed.

On Afghanistan, the book examines how Biden’s experience as vice president shaped his approach to the withdrawal. Convinced that President Barack Obama had been manipulated by his own commanders, Biden vowed privately in 2009, “The military doesn’t f--- around with me.”

“Peril” also documents how Biden’s top advisers spent the spring weighing, but ultimately rejecting, alternatives to a full withdrawal. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin returned from a NATO meeting in March envisioning ways to extend the mission, including through a “gated” withdrawal seeking diplomatic leverage. But they came to see that meaningful leverage would require a more expansive commitment, and instead came back around to a full exit.

Milley, for his part, took what the authors describe as a deferential approach to Biden on Afghanistan, in contrast to his earlier efforts to constrain Trump. The book reveals recent remarks the chairman delivered to the Joint Chiefs in which he said, “Here’s a couple of rules of the road here that we’re going to follow. One is you never, ever ever box in a president of the United States. You always give him decision space.” Referring to Biden, he said, “You’re dealing with a seasoned politician here who has been in Washington, D.C., 50 years, whatever it is.”

His decision just months earlier to place himself between Trump and potential war was triggered by several important events — a phone call, a photo op and a refusal to rule out war with another adversary, Iran.

The immediate motivation, according to the book, was the Jan. 8 call from Pelosi, who demanded to know, “What precautions are available to prevent an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or from accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike?” Milley assured her that there were “a lot of checks in the system.”

The call transcript obtained by the authors shows Pelosi telling Milley, referring to Trump, “He’s crazy. You know he’s crazy. … He’s crazy and what he did yesterday is further evidence of his craziness.” Milley replied, “I agree with you on everything.”

Milley’s resolve was deepened by the events of June 1, 2020 when he felt Trump had used him as part of a photo op in his walk across Lafayette Square during protests that began after the killing of George Floyd. The chairman came to see his role as ensuring that, “We’re not going to turn our guns on the American people and we’re not going to have a ‘Wag the Dog’ scenario overseas,” the authors quote him saying privately.

Trump’s posture, not just to China but also to Iran, tested that promise. In discussions about Iran’s nuclear program, Trump declined to rule out striking the country, at times even displaying curiosity about the prospect, according to the book. Haspel was so alarmed after a meeting in November that she called Milley to say, “This is a highly dangerous situation. We are going to lash out for his ego?”

Trump’s fragile ego drove many decisions by the nation’s leaders, from lawmakers to the vice president, according to the book. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was so worried that a call from President-elect Biden would send Trump into a fury that the then-Majority Leader used a backchannel to fend off Biden. He asked Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, formerly the No. 2 Senate Republican, to ask Sen. Christopher A. Coons, the Democrat of Delaware and close Biden ally, to tell Biden not to call him.

So intent was Pence on being Trump’s loyal second-in-command — and potential successor — that he asked confidants if there were ways he could accede to Trump’s demands and avoid certifying the results of the election on Jan. 6. In late December, the authors reveal, Pence called Dan Quayle, a former vice president and fellow Indiana Republican, for advice.

Quayle was adamant, according to the authors. “Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away,” he said.

But Pence pressed him, the authors write, asking if there were any grounds to pause the certification because of ongoing legal challenges. Quayle was unmoved, and Pence ultimately agreed, according to the book.

When Pence said he planned to certify the results, the president lashed out. In the Oval Office on Jan. 5, the authors write, Pence told Trump he could not thwart the process, that his role was simply to “open the envelopes.”

“I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this,” Trump replied, according to the book, later telling his vice president, “You’ve betrayed us. I made you. You were nothing.”

Within days, Trump was out of office, his governing power reduced to nothing. But if stability had returned to Washington, Milley feared it would be short-lived, the authors write.

The general saw parallels between Jan. 6 and the 1905 Russian Revolution, which set off unrest throughout the Russian Empire and, though it failed, helped create the conditions for the October Revolution of 1917, in which the Bolsheviks executed a successful coup that set up the world’s first communist state. Vladimir Lenin, who led the revolution, called 1905 a “dress rehearsal.”

A similar logic could apply with Jan. 6, Milley thought as he wrestled with the meaning of that day, telling senior staff: “What you might have seen was a precursor to something far worse down the road.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... ley-china/
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

4
Woodward may be trying to sell a book, but this is scary stuff. I'd rather read some Stephen King horror fiction than this actual and truth shit history. FDT and the people that believe he should EVER be reelected to ANY position of power. DJT is pure unadulterated evil.
"Being Republican is more than a difference of opinion - it's a character flaw." "COVID can fix STUPID!"
The greatest, most aggrieved mistake EVER made in USA was electing DJT as POTUS.

Re: Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

13
Bolsheviks, as I seem to recall, were comprised mainly of starving peasants with little to lose beyond their lives which they pledged to each other for a real revolution.

Trumpists wouldn’t give their yachts. Forget about revolution. But yeah, individual pizzagates may happen... and the occasional militia attempts at kidnapping elected officials to make “statements”.
"It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent." -Gandhi

Re: Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

14
tRumpists are a curious blend of cynical rich looking to evade taxes, authoritarians in search of raw power, and the school-of-hard-knocks working-class looking for a reshuffle so they don't always come out on bottom. except they're not on the bottom, they're being manipulated by the other two groups to think they are, all while hating on those who actually are. i've lately become fond of a metaphor to describe their appeal: sure. we all want to drain the swamp, but some want to fill it with blood-sucking leeches first.
never submit! (click "submit" button now.)

Re: Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

16
Wino wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:51 pm Some calling for Milley resigning if calls are true. Only villain in this whole scenario is Donald J. Trump. Milley may have truly saved this nation as surely as Lincoln did.
The thought that Dan QUAYLE (DAN QUAYLE!!) comes out of this as something of a national hero for telling Pence what he did and convincing Pence (who I really think has no ethical compass whatsoever) to not follow iDJT's lead is terrifying, too.
Eventually I'll figure out this signature thing and decide what I want to put here.

Re: Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

17
BearPaws wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 8:06 am
Wino wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:51 pm Some calling for Milley resigning if calls are true. Only villain in this whole scenario is Donald J. Trump. Milley may have truly saved this nation as surely as Lincoln did.
The thought that Dan QUAYLE (DAN QUAYLE!!) comes out of this as something of a national hero for telling Pence what he did and convincing Pence (who I really think has no ethical compass whatsoever) to not follow iDJT's lead is terrifying, too.
Bless his heart! Although I suspect Dan had no clue whom he was speaking with or what the subject was. On the other hand, I do suspect Pence would contact the dumbest VP we've ever had in my lifetime to get his opinion. On the third hand, I question whether this happened at all. Dumb and dumber come to mind in this scenario.
"Being Republican is more than a difference of opinion - it's a character flaw." "COVID can fix STUPID!"
The greatest, most aggrieved mistake EVER made in USA was electing DJT as POTUS.

Re: Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

18
lurker wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 4:13 am tRumpists are a curious blend of cynical rich looking to evade taxes, authoritarians in search of raw power, and the school-of-hard-knocks working-class looking for a reshuffle so they don't always come out on bottom. except they're not on the bottom, they're being manipulated by the other two groups to think they are, all while hating on those who actually are. i've lately become fond of a metaphor to describe their appeal: sure. we all want to drain the swamp, but some want to fill it with blood-sucking leeches first.
Bingo!

Re: Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

20
Milley didn't follow the traditional route to the Army officer corps by going to West Point, he's a graduate of Princeton University with a bachelor's in politics and a master's in international relations from Columbia University. In other words he's Ivy League educated with a broad view of the world. He sparred with Matt Gaetz in a House hearing in June over critical race theory.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

21
Ret. Col Alex Vindman along with many ex-military are calling for Milley to resign (and the usual suspects in congress). From my POV, what Milley did was no different than what Vindman did - trying to stop a crazy man from damaging this nation. Vindman lost his battle because of Moscow Mitch; Milley won his by staying quiet and working behind the scene - end results was same - exposing the crimes of turd + saving the nation in all probability. Regardless, I expect the calls to resign will be successful, sadly.
"Being Republican is more than a difference of opinion - it's a character flaw." "COVID can fix STUPID!"
The greatest, most aggrieved mistake EVER made in USA was electing DJT as POTUS.

Re: Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

22
Wino wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 11:06 am Ret. Col Alex Vindman along with many ex-military are calling for Milley to resign (and the usual suspects in congress). From my POV, what Milley did was no different than what Vindman did - trying to stop a crazy man from damaging this nation. Vindman lost his battle because of Moscow Mitch; Milley won his by staying quiet and working behind the scene - end results was same - exposing the crimes of turd + saving the nation in all probability. Regardless, I expect the calls to resign will be successful, sadly.
I agree Wino, on the surface it seems unusual but we don't know what prior military leaders have done in extreme situations. Yes Milley worked within the system, Vindman took a risk of going outside. It's reported that James Schlesinger, Nixon's last Defense secretary was concerned about what Nixon might do took certain actions.
One particular moment from Nixon’s time offers insight into what it might look like for staffers to manage a President’s potential volatility: In the period before Nixon’s Aug. 9, 1974, resignation, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger reportedly ordered certain presidential orders — especially those related to nuclear arms — to be cleared by himself personally or National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger.

The story goes that Nixon had alarmed Schlesinger and advisors by declaring: “I can go into my office and pick up the telephone, and in 25 minutes 70 million people will be dead.”

As Craig Nelson explains in his history of the atomic age, Nixon embraced the so-called Madman Theory when it came to nuclear weapons. According to that theory, it helped U.S. foreign policy for Nixon to seem a bit crazy because it made potential enemies wary that he might actually use nuclear weapons. But California Senator Alan Cranston wasn’t comforted by that possible explanation. He is said to have flagged Schlesinger on the “the need for keeping a berserk President from plunging us into a holocaust,” as TIME previously reported.

Fears about what Nixon might do had arisen even earlier that year.

In the spring of 1974, Joseph Laitin, who had worked in public affairs in the Johnson White House, approached Schlesinger and “broached some of his fears,” paraphrased by Seymour Hersh in 1983 as: “Was it possible for the President of the United States to authorize the use of nuclear weapons without his secretary of defense knowing it? What if Nixon, ordered by the Supreme Court to leave office, refused to leave and called for the military to surround the Washington area? Who was in charge then? Whose orders would be obeyed in a crisis?” Hersh reported that at one point Schlesinger said, “I had seen enough so that I was not going to run risks with the future of the United States.”
https://time.com/5388648/watergate-nixo ... ous-op-ed/
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

24
in May of 1972 we mined Haiphong Harbor.

The mining of the harbors around Haiphong, North Vietnam, during May 1972, is widely believed to have contributed significantly to forcing Hanoi to the negotiating tables and extracting a reasonable cessation of war agreement with the United States and the Republic of South Vietnam.

I person I know was a sailor on a US Nuclear Sub that was stationed off of Haiphong Harbor. It was loaded with nuclear tip torpedoes. They were waiting for the order from Nixon to shoot the torpedoes into Haiphong Harbor while it was loaded with Russian ships. The word was Kissinger was to tell the Russians the North Vietnamese needed to return to the peace talks ASAP or else.

Tat is how close we came to nuclear war.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.-Huxley
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Louis Brandeis,

Re: Woodward's new book on the last days of the Trump administration and other things.

25
TrueTexan wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:40 pm in May of 1972 we mined Haiphong Harbor.

The mining of the harbors around Haiphong, North Vietnam, during May 1972, is widely believed to have contributed significantly to forcing Hanoi to the negotiating tables and extracting a reasonable cessation of war agreement with the United States and the Republic of South Vietnam.

I person I know was a sailor on a US Nuclear Sub that was stationed off of Haiphong Harbor. It was loaded with nuclear tip torpedoes. They were waiting for the order from Nixon to shoot the torpedoes into Haiphong Harbor while it was loaded with Russian ships. The word was Kissinger was to tell the Russians the North Vietnamese needed to return to the peace talks ASAP or else.

Tat is how close we came to nuclear war.
That seems pretty far fetched. If true, then Nixon was 10X the nut I already thought it was. Nuke a nation to bring them to the peace table. Sounds like "Hey, no fighting in the war room".
“I think there’s a right-wing conspiracy to promote the idea of a left-wing conspiracy”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests

cron