Gen. Milley Was Forced to Act Because Others Didn’t

General Mark Milley is getting a lot of criticism for taking steps to ensure that Trump couldn’t unilaterally start a crisis — say, a nuclear war with China — in the closing days of Trump’s administration. Of course, those of us who are not right-wing wackjobs are grateful to him. However, there is an argument to be made that you don’t want the head of the military making decisions like that under most circumstances.

It seems to me that the real deriliction of duty is that Trump wasn’t removed from office long before January 2021, either by the Senate or through the 25th Amendment process. I’m sure it was obvious even to Lindsey Graham that Trump was mentally unfit to be POTUS. He is both intellectually and psychologically unsound, and he obviously did misuse his office in many ways even beyond what he did to get impeached.

The 25th Amendment process is supposed to work this way:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

This assumes that the vice president and the principal officers — cabinet members, I take it — have the moral courage and integrity to do the right thing. Unfortunately, this was the Trump White House we’re talking about. Instead of doing the right thing, they conspired to keep Trump propped up in office. Likewise Senate Republicans would not have removed Trump from office even if he’d been discovered in bed with Vladimir Putin.

And because so many other people wouldn’t do the right thing, wouldn’t do their duty to the United States, it was left to Mark Milley to be sure Trump couldn’t pull some useless stunt that might get countless people killed.

Obviously the 25th Amendment was useless to check Trump. If the Vice President and principal officers of an administration are such a pack of weenies they won’t remove someone as unfit and dangerous as Trump, Congress should perhaps establish some “other body as Congress may by law provide” with the authority to begin the removal process in the future. Congress might also establish criteria for removal, such as neurological and psychological exams by independent physicians, not the one employed by the White House or chosen by the President.

Removing a president should not become routine, but neither should it be left to the Chair of the Joint Chiefs to unilaterally decide that the president can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes. It isn’t General Milley’s fault he was put in that position.

9 thoughts on “Gen. Milley Was Forced to Act Because Others Didn’t

  1. <i> Senate Republicans would not have removed Trump from office even if he’d been discovered in bed with Vladimir Putin.</i>


    Many would have been envious.

    General Milley seems to have acted with a degree of responsibility that, as a non-USAian, surprised me.

  2. maha!


    tRUMP & Putin – in bed?!?!?!

    What an insult!

    Putin would't get in bed with a pig like that FOR ANYTHING!!!!!



  3. By and large doing nothing is the safer course of action.  When politically risky, it is always best to goad someone else into doing it.  Doing nothing was the FBI's choice in the women's gymnastic sexual abuse scandal.  This is one of the rare examples of when it has consequences, though justice will be hard to come by.

    The Republican Party loves to police, except  within it's own organization.  There were many opportunities to correct their Trump problem,  but they chose to do nothing or obstruct.  They continue to do this even after the 1/6 insurrection.  Only when they show the ability to enforce rules in their own ranks do they deserve elected office.  

    I find most fault in those who failed to convict in impeachment.  Still, to violate the principle of civilian control of the military is not a matter to be taken lightly.  This transgression would not have been needed if our Senator's had done their job.  Too many took the "safe" road and did way too much nothing.  Kind of like the FBI did, remained idol rather than protect young citizens and do their job.  


  4. People I know say that the process is pretty much like what Milley says happened under ALL circumstances. The President really does not have unilateral authority to just willy-nilly launch nuclear strikes any more than launch conventional actions.

  5. Oops, idle not idol, a failure in self editing.  

    The AP  is reporting Gen. Milley is claiming his phone calls were a bit on the routine side and  not stretching protocol.  The military likes the term SOP or standard operating procedure.  What is SOP to those with a military mindset is often viewed differently from a civilian perspective.  Oh yes, there is often the third way.  You have the normal right way and wrong way of course, but then there is the Army way.  To those highly institutionalized, too often the only way.  This is why civilian control of the military remains of critical importance.  This civilian control is not a job for the lazy those who remain idle when they need to be doing their job.  It is also not a job for those who are professional lackeys, and think there only role is to idolize their defective leader. 

  6. I seem to remember something about an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. 

    The critics of the general only seem to remember "mein furher, I can walk".

    Pardon the spelling, but let's see how many can catch the reference in 10 seconds or less.

    • Thank you for reminding us about the oath every officer takes.  I have not read the book yet, but, I have yet to read that the general violated any rules.  Yes, I want civilian control, if, the civilians are sane (yet another transactional word).  From what I hear, the general simply wanted to ensure he was informed of any thoughts of "attacks".  What he did with the information is not known.

  7. Yes, an officer in the US Armed Forces swears an oath to the Constitution, not the president. But there's another facet. An officer is required not to comply. Milley could not be sure if Trump would issue an illegal order or not. If it was illegal and issued to some other official in the Pentagon, Milley wanted a pause on that order until it was reviewed. There is/was no pressing need to launch a first strike that would kill hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians. (Kinda sounds like a crime.) So IMO, Milley is on safe ground as far as his oath is concerned.

  8. Yes, that was my point. The constitution is not a piece of paper, but the design of the composition , organization, form and structure of the physical government of the United States. General Milley was protecting the small d democracy and the small r republic, and by extension, the people  of the country. As the oath requires.

    I, personally, don't find it a quantum leap in logic that the orange dude became completely unhinged after the election and truly believed he could convince enough of his acolytes in the military, congress, etc. that a nuclear strike would solve his dilemma.

    After all this *** thought an atomic bomb (as dump called it) would convince a hurricane to turn away from the east coast. And that was BEFORE THE ELECTION.

    History may not remember Milley, but he was a hero and deserves gratitude.


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