Gen. Mark Milley apparently thinks Ukraine should negotiate with its Russian aggressors and the U.S. should shift its policy toward Kyiv. That’s the upshot of a New York Times piece, published last week, about remarks the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made at the Economic Club of New York. Such views aren’t merely strategically irrational. They also demonstrate the risks of elevating general officers to positions of political prominence. As partisanship continues to plague American politics, we need a new chairman to repair the military’s fractious relationship with civilian authorities.
The airing of Gen. Milley’s comments isn’t surprising. Since the war began, there have been leaks about intra-White House disputes, particularly over whether to provide Ukraine with long-range weapons. Though Gen. Milley may not have shared all those sentiments, it also shouldn’t be surprising that he is fearful of—and vocal about—escalated conflict with Russia.
Gen. Milley, who became chairman of the Joint Chiefs in October 2019, has a track record of political activity. In September 2021, he admitted that he sought to assure his Chinese counterparts in late 2020 that there was no possibility of a Sino-American war. He took the same approach to Iran in 2020, apparently resisting then-President Trump’s desire to strike the regime in the final months of his term. Never mind that such wartime decisions are the sole constitutional authority of the commander in chief, not senior military officials.
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Author: Ruth King
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