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Grand Strategy for a Divided America

brihard

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Absolutely no. He has no idea about the current diplomatic talks between the 2 countries. He could derail very important talks. His sole role is advisor to the president, he has no command authority whatsoever. He can't conduct talks with a foreign country no matter what.


Is this common for military officers to go around the authority of the commander in chief and make decisions that could affect foreign relations? If he says the wrong thing to his Chinese counterpart it could really be catastrophic. He is not a diplomat he is a soldier.
You have interesting beliefs about the level of knowledge the chairman of the JCS would have access to. He wasn’t ‘conducting talks’ with a foreign government, he was reported to be reassuring them that, essentially, a temporary internal crisis would remain, well, temporary and internal. I’m curious why you think that on his way out the door Trump would have been engaged in some major diplomacy with China.

Of course this is not a usual thing, but neither were they usual circumstances. There was a lame duck president on the way out the door who by many reports was pretty desperate to pull any strings or levers he could to reverse the outcome of the election and to stay in power. That’s not a usual or particularly safe set of circumstances for the most powerful nation in the world.
 

kkwd

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You have interesting beliefs about the level of knowledge the chairman of the JCS would have access to. He wasn’t ‘conducting talks’ with a foreign government, he was reported to be reassuring them that, essentially, a temporary internal crisis would remain, well, temporary and internal. I’m curious why you think that on his way out the door Trump would have been engaged in some major diplomacy with China.
The JCS is in on diplomatic talks? Maybe they run things that way in certain countries but not in the USA. Again I will say, he has no clue about high level talks, which go on constantly, unless you can say otherwise and prove that is incorrect.
 

QV

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People will defend this because orange man bad. In any other situation this would be grossly unacceptable.

Imagine the CDS, going behind an unpopular PM (say with only 33% pop support) and doing something similar? Let’s extrapolate the scenario, what if it was trade related and involved senior public servants, would that be ok?
 

kkwd

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People will defend this because orange man bad. In any other situation this would be grossly unacceptable.

Imagine the CDS, going behind an unpopular PM (say with only 33% pop support) and doing something similar? Let’s extrapolate the scenario, what if it was trade related and involved senior public servants, would that be ok?
Do you suppose he is talking to General Sir Nicholas Carter about Biden? Don't worry Nick, we got your back no matter what.
 

Good2Golf

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The JCS is in on diplomatic talks? Maybe they run things that way in certain countries but not in the USA. Again I will say, he has no clue about high level talks, which go on constantly, unless you can say otherwise and prove that is incorrect.
By “high-level”, do you mean discussions involving National Instruments of Power?

You know, the four pillars of national US power: Dimplomatic; Informational; Military; Economic (DIME).

In America, the military IS one of the high-level instruments of power, so it stands to reason that the senior military advisor to the President might in fact have ‘some clue’ as to how the military instrument of American power fits with the other three.
 

kkwd

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By “high-level”, do you mean discussions involving National Instruments of Power?

You know, the four pillars of national US power: Dimplomatic; Informational; Military; Economic (DIME).

In America, the military IS one of the high-level instruments of power, so it stands to reason that the senior military advisor to the President might in fact have ‘some clue’ as to how the military instrument of American power fits with the other three.
Unauthorized communications with foreign leaders are wrong.
 

daftandbarmy

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Unauthorized communications with foreign leaders are wrong.

There's a precedent, I think:


Nuclear Close Calls: The Cuban Missile Crisis​


The crisis also prompted the creation of the Moscow-Washington hotline, a direct telephone link between the Kremlin and the White House designed to prevent future escalations. Kennedy also ordered the creation of the nuclear “football” which would give him and future presidents the means to order a nuclear strike within minutes.

 

kkwd

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Was he unauthorized? Could he also not talk to Vance? Other CHoDs?
From 10 USC Ch. 5: JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF

§153. Chairman: functions​

(a) Planning; Advice; Policy Formulation.—Subject to the authority, direction, and control of the President and the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall be responsible for the following:
Allied forces are a world apart from adversaries. The position is not for a free-lancer.
 
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kkwd

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Brad Sallows

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There is no fealty owed to a president

True.

military officers swear an oath to support and defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.

So, what was the constitutional thing that would be defended?

For those who may be interpreting what happened as a conversation about only nuclear strikes, it was not. From WaPo:

“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.”

Odd how situationally malleable the principle of military-subordinate-to-civilian has become lately.

Common mistake a lot of people are making: forgetting that the staff's knickers in a knot could just mean the staff are the ones who are unstable or otherwise unsuited to their responsibility.
 

Kirkhill

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Perhaps someone can remind me.

What was General Flynn's crime?
 

Edward Campbell

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Absolutely no. He has no idea about the current diplomatic talks between the 2 countries. He could derail very important talks. His sole role is advisor to the president, he has no command authority whatsoever. He can't conduct talks with a foreign country no matter what.


Is this common for military officers to go around the authority of the commander in chief and make decisions that could affect foreign relations? If he says the wrong thing to his Chinese counterpart it could really be catastrophic. He is not a diplomat he is a soldier.

I would argue that in a modern state the reverse is true. Service chiefs and very senior foreign affairs officials talk, candidly, on a regular basis. The military, in peace, is a big part of a country's diplomatic action. When and where things go wrong is when/where the military and the foreign policy bureaucracy are NOT woking hand-in-glove.
 

brihard

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Perhaps someone can remind me.

What was General Flynn's crime?
Flynn’s crime - the one he pled guilty to, was convicted of, and was subsequently pardoned for by Trump - was a felony count of knowingly and wilfully making false statements to investigators. He was not convicted for talking to the Ukrainians.

Back to Milley: Direct military to military comms happens frequently. You think there isn’t some communication when things get heated during, say, a freedom of navigation exercise when things get twitchy? America has come close to the brink several times- Cuba, Able Archer ‘83, probably others. The most powerful nation in the world teetering on a political edge, however briefly, is a dangerous and frightening prospect. A lot of people had to take unusual actions in the late part of 2020 and the early pet of 2021. The same reporting indicates that Pence spoke with former VP Dan Quayle, who helped convince him to fulfil his constitutional duty in the certification of the electoral college votes, against Trump’s urging. I think it’s also unprecedented for a sitting president to try to convince the VP to somehow overturn the lawful election results. I don’t think it’s irresponsible for senior military leadership to do what they can to reduce the chances of military confrontation due to domestic turmoil.

So yeah, lots of scary things happened around that time, and so things took place that in anything other than total shit circumstances should never have to happen. I believe Milley and others made the best decisions they could with the time and information they had, in order to keep America safe. It seems to have worked, as ‘the Storm’ came and America weathered it.
 

brihard

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Of interest, here’s a press release on the US - China Joint Staff Dialogue Mechanism signed in 2017.


The agreement is intended for crisis mitigation, U.S. Joint Staff officials said, noting that direct communication at the three-star level in the Pentagon and the Ba Yi will "enable us to communicate to reduce the risk of miscalculation." Army Lt. Gen. Richard D. Clarke, the Joint Staff's director for strategic plans and policy, will lead the effort for the American military. The first meeting to set up the framework is set for November.

So it appears that Milley’s actions may have been directly in accordance with the intent of an agreement entered into with China by the Trump administration. Food for thought. It certainly puts a pin in the notion that military to military comms are necessarily inappropriate in a crisis. They could still be- but not by default.
 

QV

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Curious, I wonder if Milley is having the same conversation with adversaries of the US about dementia Joe.

"Don't worry, though he appears lost, everything is under control by the appropriate people. I will let you know if my elected civilian superiors are considering waging war (or trade sanctions, or...)"

Milley set one hell of a precedent, if not dealt with.
 

lenaitch

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I am certain senior military-to-military contact between non-allies happens. No doubt the US, or any other western democracy, would appreciate a heads-up from a senior saner head when their particular nation is having an internal domestic. It's the ones that don't have any saner heads that can take the initiative without fearing for their life that would concern me.

Was the Constitution or his oath violated? Was his action in direct defiance of his commander-in-chief? He may ultimately pay a price, but I'm not convinced he should.
 
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