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Milley's checkered history: China, Afghanistan withdrawal, and CRT

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley faces intense scrutiny for phone calls he made to his Chinese counterparts about then-President Donald Trump. But it’s far from the first time Milley’s actions have sparked accusations of politicizing his role.

The pair of phone calls between Milley and Chinese defense officials emerged from a forthcoming book about the end of the Trump presidency. According to the book, Milley called the Chinese once in October 2020 to assure them the United States would not attack them and again in January 2021 to offer the same assurances. He also promised to give them a secret heads-up if Trump planned to launch an attack.

A spokesperson for Milley said Wednesday the phone calls, which the Pentagon did not deny, were part of the chairman’s regular “duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability.”

Amid the demands for Milley’s termination, President Joe Biden said Wednesday he has “great confidence” in his top military adviser.

Republicans have demanded answers whether Milley circumvented the chain of command by communicating Pentagon plans to the Chinese without the president’s knowledge.

Critical race theory defense

Milley faced questions from Republican congressmen in June about whether the military was, in some cases, embracing critical race theory.

His sharp responses drew criticism from the right.

"I want to understand white rage, and I'm white, and I want to understand it," Milley said during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. "So what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out."

Milley also slammed the idea the military had become “woke” by “studying some theories that are out there.” Those accusations came amid criticism from Republicans that Pentagon funding went toward advancing the controversial theories on race in society.

Church walk apology

In the summer of 2020, as Black Lives Matter demonstrations broke out in cities across the country, protesters descended on Lafayette Park outside the White House in June.

Highly critical of the protesters, Trump walked across the park moments after law enforcement officers cleared it to hold up a Bible in front of a nearby church. Critics described the move as a poorly conceived photo opportunity.

Milley, along with several other high-level Trump administration officials, joined Trump on the walk.

But amid the political backlash to the episode, Milley publicly apologized for participating — a move some viewed as an act of defiance.

Then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper also participated in the walk but did not apologize.

Afghanistan withdrawal

In the weeks before news of the China calls emerged, Milley was under fire for his role in the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Milley said publicly he had seen no intelligence suggesting Kabul could fall to the Taliban in a matter of 11 days. His words directly contradicted how Biden characterized the chaos surrounding the withdrawal, which was that the situation was unavoidable.

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Milley has also faced criticism for reportedly advising Biden the military should abandon Bagram Air Base ahead of the withdrawal deadline. That decision left only one evacuation point at Kabul’s civilian airport, creating a dangerous bottleneck that ultimately cost the lives of 13 service members.

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Tags: News, Joint Chiefs, Mark Milley, Afghanistan, Joe Biden

Original Author: Sarah Westwood

Original Location: Milley's checkered history: China, Afghanistan withdrawal, and CRT

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