A recent profile on General Mark Milley has explored his ongoing endeavors to oversee the military over the past few years amidst his significant apprehensions regarding former President Donald Trump. The extensive profile, released on Thursday by The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, sheds light on how the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff formed his perspective on Trump. It discusses Milley’s challenges in dealing with the perceived “cognitive unfitness and moral derangement” of the former President.
The piece portrays Milley as someone grappling to counter Trump’s most alarming tendencies, aiming to uphold the military’s multiple safeguards should Trump compel him to choose between his allegiance and the Constitution. Numerous instances highlighting Milley’s frustration with Trump’s conduct were cited. One notable example was during Milley’s welcome ceremony. Here, he gained a “disturbing insight” into Trump’s indifferent attitude towards soldiers.
Milley had selected a gravely injured Army captain, Luis Avila, to perform “God Bless America.” Despite losing a leg and enduring severe multiple health issues due to an IED attack in Afghanistan, Avila embodied the heroism and dignity of wounded soldiers to Milley and his peers. However, after Avila’s performance, Trump’s insensitive remarks about not wanting to see the wounded displayed in public reflected his reported disdainful view of wounded soldiers, as reporters Susan Glasser and Peter Baker noted in their book The Divider.
Another complex situation arose when Milley was compelled to elucidate the notion of war crimes to Trump amid the former President’s intervention in the Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s case. On a late-night flight on Air Force One to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Milley endeavored to convey to Trump the potential harm his interference was causing to Navy morale.
Despite Milley’s explanation about military ethics, laws, and the significance of letting the Navy handle Gallagher’s situation internally, Trump’s response further highlighted his lack of understanding and respect for military laws and ethics. As recounted in the article, Trump’s dismissal of the gravity of slitting the throat of a wounded prisoner underscored his disconnect with military values and standards.