Mark Milley’s Perception Warfare Deserves a Leavenworth Long Course

September 22, 2021 Updated: September 22, 2021


Beltway raconteur Bob Woodward has a track record for sensationalizing gossip in order to create buzz and sell books.

In American high schools and the Washington Beltway—is there a difference?—“buzz” is a term for manipulating emotional and social responses to achieve a goal. Woodward? He wants to sell books and demonstrate he matters, years after Watergate made him a Washington Post legend.

In the case of high school, the buzz creators are usually Mean Girls decapitating Nice Girl rivals or punishing boys and girls who ignore or abhor Mean Girl deceits, scams, and deceptions.

Washington? Hey, in the Beltway, Mean Girl is an asexual term for a power-mad, self-serving politician practicing perception warfare, no matter the on-the-ground reality (Afghanistan; Haitians under a Del Rio bridge), no matter the cost to American taxpayers, no matter the damage to American national security.

Woodward and co-author Robert Costa have a new book out named “Peril.” According to their buzz, the authors claim that shortly after the Jan. 6 Washington semi-riot, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley was so deeply concerned by President Donald Trump’s behavior he decided he simply had to—absolutely had to—take personal action outside the chain of command in order to prevent an out-of-control Trump from starting a nuclear war or whatever against Communist China.

Since Woodward and Costa’s publicists started buzzing, Milley has acknowledged something happened.

The something: One of Milley’s public affairs officers, Col. David Butler, said that Milley’s “calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with (his) duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability.”

Col. Butler’s something sounds like a concession, though note he employs bureaucratic rhetorical camouflage—a classic perception warfare technique. Still, Butler admits Milley spoke with senior Chinese military officers. Missing in action: the subject Milley addressed was potential U.S. military action against the nation that is America’s most potent adversary. More missing facts: Milley spoke to the Chinese officers without approval from Trump. Reflect for a moment and it sounds like Milley acted on his own self-serving Hollywood script, not on evidence Trump was preparing to start a war.

The Beltway is a vicious high school of a sort, but unfortunately its viciousness isn’t Mean Girls wrestling with fantasy crises. In Milley’s case, we’re confronting the abrogation of the constitutional order of the military under civilian control and ultimately the U.S. military’s duty to defend America regardless of the party or personality of the president.

Fact for Milley: Senior Chinese military officers are members of the Chinese Communist Party. Tiananmen Square. Hong Kong absorption. Uyghur genocide. The Chinese military is a Party tool, Mark, a violent tool.

Milley’s short-sighted and, I argue, savvily self-serving action weakened U.S. national security and put the U.S. constitutional system at risk.

Milley’s actions are another example of the destructive perception warfare waged against the American people by powerful Beltway elites—and the worst examples of this war are perpetrated by power elites in the Democratic Party, to include President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

It’s a benevolent coincidence that last week Special Counsel John Durham indicted former Hillary Clinton campaign paid lawyer Michael Sussman. The Clinton campaign’s Russia collusion lie compromised and ultimately sacrificed the FBI’s counterintelligence security function and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court’s credibility to Hillary’s personal political goals. Her goals superseded American security. Hillary’s collusion crock was hatched to distract from her criminal abuse of classified information. The payoff for some of the actors? According to Durham’s indictment, positions in her administration. For the New York Times and Washington Post? Media Pulitzers for pushing a total lie.

Mark Milley violated constitutional order and subverted the chain of command. Why? His goal doesn’t matter, but here’s my guess: to secure the largesse of Biden and the Beltway media.

Try Milley by court martial, convict and sentence him to Fort Leavenworth’s Long Course. At Leavenworth, he can discuss perception warfare with his sledge while he whacks a rock.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Austin Bay
Austin Bay is a colonel (ret.) in the U.S. Army Reserve, author, syndicated columnist, and teacher of strategy and strategic theory at the University of Texas–Austin. His latest book is “Cocktails from Hell: Five Wars Shaping the 21st Century.”