General Milley promising to tip off China in advance if America planned to attack: OPSEC violation?

Nope, not according to the Washington Post

What is the role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? - The Washington Post

(see point 1, bottom of first paragraph).

Basically the commander of US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) is one of those Combatant Commanders mentioned before, and they are the person in operational command of the nation’s strategic arsenal, be it Air Force or Navy. So that guy gets his orders from the Secretary of Defense, and then issues his own orders to the various commands that actually do the fighting, like Fleet Forces Command or Air Force Global Strike Command, to actually engage the enemy.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff and their Chairman are basically an advisory body that advises the President and top government figures on strategy, etc… and in their own right are the Chiefs of Staff of the various services (they do have various titles for the same job; Commandant, Chief of Naval Operations, etc…)

Think Admirals Leahy and King, and General Marshall in WWII, versus Nimitz, Eisenhower and MacArthur.

It was a serious post. :slightly_frowning_face:


Indeed, and the wonder of it all is the speed with which a supposedly-respectable political party embraced an obvious swamp-creature.

Given that they did, it’s not a surprise that they would move on to cynically attempting to vilify Milley, who clearly was not acting for personal gain, but out of patriotic conviction. (And again, the entire nuclear-launch system and who can lawfully do what in regard to it needs to be more clearly laid out.)

Miley did the right thing. If he did the legal thing is something I’ll leave to others. As an aside, I suggest that this sort of action be called the “Dead Zone Protocol”.

If the strategic decision wasn’t made for a sneak attack on China than I don’t see any problem making sure that there is no misunderstanding. Now, will the Chinese perceive lack of phone calls as a signal in the future? Don’t know.

Wait - the definition of ‘war crime’ you’re using is that which has already been adjudicated and found to be a war crime? What a bizarrely narrow, Bricker-esque definition.

Well, Stranger’s original remark about war crimes in post #40—the one that seems to have initially triggered this incomprehensibly intense twisting of your panties—said that “the United States has committed numerous ‘war crimes’ in the past seventy-five years”.

Yes, that timeframe includes the 70s and Henry Kissinger, so I’m not sure why you’re objecting to Stranger’s later references to Kissinger’s actions.

I mean international law is mostly emergent, if someone asserts something as a war crime, that has never been prosecuted as such by any government or international body–it is difficult to agree that it’s a war crime. That’s like saying “drunk driving is murder”, okay, does the lawful definition of murder allow prosecution of alcohol-induced negligent driving? Answer appears to be no. Has any prosecutor ever attempted to hold such a prosecution? Has any court upheld that attempt? If the answer is no and no…again, starting to look like “drunk driving is not in fact murder.”

Because calling Henry Kissinger a war criminal has been a passion of the radical left for years, but has been thoroughly debunked any number of times. There is no real standard under which he would ever be prosecuted for war crimes for his capacity as Secretary of State (which is an advisory role to the President with no operational command over any U.S. forces.)

Where were you and Stranger when


August of 2020 I had little room in my brain space vis-a-vis online forums outside of the Presidential election.

Any international court, you mean. You already pointed out that the courts of Japan have no bearing on international law.

Likewise I may point out that international courts have no bearing on the U.S., which is not a party to the Rome Convention. See also the American Service-Members’ Protection Act which authorizes the President to take any action necessary to rescue U.S. servicemembers from the clutches of the International Criminal Court.


FWIW if you want a quick summary, the most common claims that Kissinger was a war criminal and my rebuttal of them:

Bombing of Cambodia - This was illegal under U.S. law, and would be considered a breach of international law in terms of belligerency. It was a violation of the UN Charter, and “illegal.” However confusing as this may be, it doesn’t make the perpetrators of it a war criminal, war criminal has a more limited and specific definition by international law and treaties. This actually isn’t terribly dissimilar to the 2003 Iraq war–again, an illegal action under the UN Charter and not a “legal war”, but not a war crime.

What about civilian deaths in Cambodia from the illegal bombing campaign? Evaluating those deaths actually requires looking at the motivation and intent of the belligerent. In Cambodia all evidence we have is the U.S. bombing campaign was targeting covert North Vietnamese bases in Cambodia. Such a bombing campaign will all but certainly kill civilians. It is not a war crime to kill civilians. It is a war crime to target civilians. There is no evidence the U.S. bombing campaign in Cambodia was targeting civilians.

The East Timor Genocide - East Timor or Timor-Leste is a small island country in the Indonesian archipelago. It was a Portuguese colony which is how it ended up not being part of Indonesia proper. In the mid-1970s the ruler of Indonesia–a U.S. ally, Suharto, wanted to invade East Timor because he didn’t want them to be independent and he claimed that their government had communist leanings. Kissinger supposedly approved this invasion and Suharto did ask us first. In the ensuing occupation a recognized genocide occurred. During the time of that genocide and the 25 year illegal occupation, we continued to support Indonesia and sold weapons to them.

This is not a war crime because we were not at war in East Timor, were not engaged in belligerent activities, and were not a party to conflict. Selling weapons to a belligerent who commits war crimes, does not create “war crimes by proxy.” Countries like Switzerland and Sweden that continued to do trade with the Nazis during WWII did not incur war criminal status for their leaders by doing so.

Chilean Allende Coup - This one is one that was likely illegal under U.S. law and definitely violates the U.N. Charter, but we were not direct belligerents at all, which makes it hard to prosecute as a war crime. We provided covert support to Pinochet, but we did not directly commit the atrocities–Pinochet did. The coup was illegal but not a war crime. Pinochet was a war criminal but we don’t become war criminals by transitive property through our connection to him.

Now another layer on top of all of this–Kissinger’s scope of authority and role in all of this is somewhat questionable. It’s pretty well understood he was deeply involved in East Timor, it’s less clear just how culpable he is the other two. He was involved in advising Nixon, certainly. But the Secretary of State doesn’t order the CIA to run coups, the Secretary of State doesn’t order our military to start bombing Cambodia. Richard Nixon did those things–none of which I believe are war crimes for the reasons I stated, but if they were, it would almost certainly be Nixon that bore culpability. The role of non-command civilian political advisers in conducting war crimes isn’t one of total immunity–there is some precedence at least under the Nuremberg trials for prosecuting civilian leadership, but those cases were much more direct than anything alleged of Kissinger.

For example Albert Speer was Minister of Armaments was actually overseeing the use of slave labor directly. Some of the other Nuremberg non-military defendants, may not actually have been prosecutable under subsequent war crimes regimes setup after WWII. For example Julius Streicher was a propagandist who got convicted of Crimes Against Humanity, and executed for it, but he never directly caused the death of a single person. He just operated virulent anti-Jewish propaganda outlets.

While this was considered legitimate under the structure of the Nuremberg tribunals, I’m not sure he, or Ribbentrop, could easily be convicted under the modern regime around war crimes.

It does not have to be an international court, actually. Under the laws on war crimes, it is appropriate for a belligerent to prosecute its own war criminals, in fact this is considered preferable. The structure of international tribunals actually consider themselves “courts of last resort” when home countries will not pursue war crimes charges against their own war criminals. But the prosecution of say, Lt. William Calley for the My Lai massacre is considered entirely appropriate in terms of international law. Our treaty obligations are primarily to stop and punish our own war criminals. The international tribunals have been setup for situations where countries refuse to do that.

Edit to add: My rejection of your citing the Japanese court is they do not really have jurisdiction to rule on if an American bombing campaign is illegal under our agreed upon treaties, and even so much as they have any authority to speculate on such matters at all their core ruling in that case would be of very questionable precedential value in my opinion.

A major limiter to those tribunals is you usually need force to bring a defendant to them, and those international courts don’t have armies.

Okay, that makes sense. I think there is a problem when the U.S. has only implemented some of its treaty obligations in positive domestic law, and it has also refused to ratify any treaty establishing an international court. There are also treaties establishing war crimes for many countries that were never ratified by the U.S., primarily the Rome Convention.

This leaves a number of internationally recognized war crimes where no prosecution will ever be sought in the U.S., is your contention that such war crimes simply do not exist for the U.S.? You cannot justify the convictions for crimes against humanity at Nuremberg with such a theory of international law… in my opinion. (see also this topic: Did the Nazis break the law? Did the Nazis follow illegal orders?)

I appreciate your response, and now agree with you on that case. Which is more satisfying to me than you just laughing at me upthread.



Please bear in mind the topic of the thread is clearly stated in the title and OP. This “what is or isn’t a war crime” thing is off topic.


The book has been released. I think a lot of the excerpts missed the broader context of the chapter, which was that in the days following January 6th, when the White House was pretty much incommunicado— other countries, especially those we have an adversarial relationship with, were freaking out. Seriously freaking out to the point of considering preemptive strikes

This is covered in the introductory chapter of the book. Which is good, because you can read that chapter for free without purchasing the book, if you are so inclined. Just click where it says “Look inside”.

Myself, I think the bigger takeaway from that chapter is that Miley saus that Trump’s actions on January 6th constitute treason. He said it outright a couple of times. The story of Pelosi’s conversation with Miley is pretty good, when he tries to assure that they (The White House and executive branch) would keep Trump from doing something stupid and horrible, her reaction was….excuse me……he already did and you didn’t.

Long time lurker.
1st post, but fighting ignorance here: The difference between Oath of Office, Oath of Enlistment > Marine Corps Base Quantico > News Article Display
I’m not a marine, but this oath applies to all branches of service. When I 1st saw it, it moved me. There are checks and balances built in. And Gen Milley did his duty. Hopefully the hyperlink works on my 1st post.

I should summarize somewhat for those that don’t like links:
Both officers and enlisted service members swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, but in the Oath of Enlistment, service members swear they will “obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over [them], according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

Officers do not include this in their Oath of Office.

Instead, they swear to support and defend the constitution and “well and faithfully discharge the duties of [their] office.”

Why are the two oaths different and what does it mean that officers do not swear obedience to the president or higher ranking officers? This concept traces back to the intentions of the Founding Fathers who created our governing system with a separation of powers and series of checks and balances between the three branches. This ensures no single branch or person gains too much power and becomes corrupted. By swearing allegiance to a set of ideals and laws, our military is not bound by the orders of a single person, but are dedicated to the defense of the people and their way of life.

Great first posts, and thank you for fighting my ignorance.

Welcome to the forum – glad you de-lurked!

Thanks for that!

On the topic of notifying another country of an attack, let’s hearken back to how the American public felt about Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, said attack occurring before notification of same.