General Mark Milley, Chairman Joint Chief Of Staff On Wars With Russia & China
By Michael E. O’Hanlon – Brookings Institute
On December 2, Brookings hosted U.S. Army General Mark Milley, the 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — the nation’s highest-ranking military officer. What he said about how to view America’s troubled relationships with Russia and China was important, and a useful corrective to those in and out of uniform who believed we are headed for violent confrontation someday with one or both of those unfriendly powers.
First, some context. Milley’s predecessor, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, told Congress during his 2015 confirmation hearings that Russia had become the top threat to American national security.
A year after Russia seized Crimea, attacked eastern Ukraine with covert operatives, and prepared to disrupt America’s own elections, this assessment startled some, but it rang true. The post-Cold War honeymoon with Moscow was over, especially with Vladimir Putin again ensconced in the Kremlin — where he may now remain until 2035. For a quarter-century, since the Cold War had ended, American defense policy had focused on rogue states like Iraq under Saddam Hussein and North Korea.
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