As a historian, I can firmly attest to the fact that history does, indeed, often repeat itself. George Santaya’s anecdote is often true: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Unfortunately, this rings true for both the good and the bad.
During the Revolutionary War, General Benedict Arnold of the American forces began secret negotiations with British officers and passed along various military secrets before finally being exposed in 1780 as he made plans to surrender West Point to the British.
Although Arnold was unsuccessful, he would not be the last American general to secretly communicate with a hostile foreign power.
Enter General Mark Milley in the present day, current head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Milley, who among other things is partially responsible for the debacle of Afghanistan, has outdone himself insofar that he has taken Arnold’s place as America’s most untrustworthy military leader.
We now know that Milley, in his borderline wisdom, made not one but two calls to Chinese military officials during the waning days of the Trump presidency.
The first was in October of last year, while the second came shortly after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Apparently, Milley was concerned about the possibility of Trump launching an attack on China and made the calls to let his pals in Beijing know that if such a thing were to actually happen he would give them a heads up. He went outside the chain of command, and for that act alone, he should be court-martialed.
Milley maintains that this was all pro forma and that he would never actually share military secrets with the Chinese. That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t change the fact that Milley went behind the back of then-acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller.
Miller has since said that he "did not and would not ever authorize" any such secret calls.
More to the point though, since when did American generals start caring so much about the well-being of Red China?
He is a Joe Biden kind of general. He can be counted to cut and run and run up the white flag. Milley is the last person you’d want in a dugout with you. He might sell you out to the other side.
For that matter, in what universe does Milley live in where he thinks it’s fine to arbitrarily go behind the back of the commander in chief and the head of the Defense Department? However one may feel about Donald Trump, it's simply unconscionable for an American general to do such a thing.
This brings me back to Benedict Arnold, and the striking similarities between him and Milley.
Both of them, I’ve noticed, felt ill-used by their commanding officers, which drove these weaklings to distasteful actions. Many historians agree that one of Arnold’s motivations for turning traitor was because he felt passed over for promotions by both George Washington and the Congress. Likewise, it is well-documented that Milley butted heads with Trump on several occasions, including Trump’s handling of last year’s violent left wing riots following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Milley reportedly considered resigning from his post in the wake of Trump’s photo-shoot in Lafayette Square near the White House last summer.
It’s also worth pointing out that Milley, like Arnold before him, seems to be obsessed with self-aggrandizement.
Besides his belief he deserved better from the American army, Arnold was living the high life. Prior to his betrayal he had married Peggy Shippen, who was the daughter of a prominent Philadelphia family with ties to the Loyalist movement.
Arnold lived with her in Philadelphia and kept up an extravagant lifestyle, borrowing heavily to do so and leaving him just as heavily in debt. But as long as he got to rub shoulders with wealthy British sympathizers, Arnold was a happy man.
Similarly, Milley has gone out of his way to get attention in the wake of Trump’s ignominious exit from the White House.
Milley has admitted to speaking to multiple authors since Trump left office, including the left wing Bob Woodward, to give his saucy accounts of the wild and crazy ride.
Milley has to know as well as anyone in Washington that the press is still addicted to Trump, so it’s hardly a surprise to me that he’s working so hard to feed journalists more and more "inside looks" at Trump if it means his name appears in books or headlines.
Milley’s cardinal sin, though, is his apparent concern for the well-being of Red China.
Whatever Milley thinks he knows, China is a hostile foreign power.
China has replaced the Soviets as America’s greatest adversary, and I have to applaud the Chinese general whom Milley called for keeping a straight face while Milley assured him we wouldn’t do anything crazy at the behest of Trump.
China could care less about America's well-being. Why should we care about theirs?
Milley is clearly more interested in appearing in news articles and seeking attention than guiding our armed forces. For that and his Arnold-esque contact of a hostile foreign power, he should resign or be fired.
Benedict Arnold ended up in a British uniform fighting the Americans disgracefully. Can we expect in the near future see Milley in the uniform of the Red China Army, opposing America?
Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer, presidential historian, and four-time best-selling author. His most recent book is ''Mary Ball Washington,'' a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Read Craig Shirley's Reports — More Here.
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