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In a glimpse into Trump’s crazed final days in office, it emerged the top military officer was shaken by Trump’s refusal to concede and feared he may attempt a coup

In a glimpse into Trump's crazed final days in office, it emerged the top military officer was shaken by Trump's refusal to concede and feared he may attempt a coup
It’s the extreme danger that the US system of government, Constitution and cherished freedoms would face if an ex-President even now trying to revive his demagogic political career ever gets anywhere near the Oval Office again.
In the latest staggering glimpse into Trump’s crazed, final days in office from a flurry of new books, it emerged Wednesday that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley was so shaken by Trump’s refusal to concede defeat that he feared he might attempt a coup or other illegal gambit to stay in power.
Milley saw himself and the armed forces as a bulwark against any presidential mutiny against the Constitution and the nearly two-and-a-half centuries of democratic transfers of power.
“They may try, but they’re not going to f**king succeed,” Milley told his deputies, according to excerpts of the book “I Alone Can Fix It” by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, which was obtained by CNN ahead of its release next Tuesday.
Milley saw Trump as the “classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose,” the authors wrote, but he told subordinates: “You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with the guns.”
In the end, Trump did not seek to turn the military on the American people or stage the most alarming showdown in living memory between a modern commander-in-chief and top military brass. But that seasoned military officers thought it was a real possibility and hatched a plan for rolling resignations to thwart Trump’s autocratic impulses underscores the ex-President’s extraordinary instability. Their preparations raised the specter that the uniformed military was ready to act to protect democracy and the rule of law from a civilian commander-in-chief in a reversal of normal Constitutional order — furthering an impression repeatedly left by Trump himself that he was unfit to ever be President.
There can be little doubt that if he is ever again in a position of supreme power, the twice-impeached former President would be similarly erratic and lawless as he was in office. His behavior since returning to private life proves it.
New details of his past malfeasance come as Trump and his supporters actively seek to whitewash the truth of the insurrection that he incited against the US Capitol as Congress was certifying President Joe Biden’s victory on January 6. The former President still has most of the Washington Republican Party — which acted to excuse his assault on democracy — in thrall to his personality cult. Millions of his voters believe his lies about non-existent voter fraud spread by propagandistic right-wing media networks.
Trump is, meanwhile, moving to tighten his grip over national elections by effectively installing acolytes in positions of power in state GOP parties as local Republican legislators pass laws making it harder for Democrats to vote that also weaken non-partisan control of elections, which could make them easier to steal in the future.
The new account also raises even more questions about senior Republican leaders’ attitude toward Trump. Given the close links between Capitol Hill and the top echelons of the military, it is impossible to believe that Milley’s testimony in the book will come as a surprise to congressional leaders or that they did not understand his fears in real time. Even if they didn’t know, the fact that the GOP is still protecting, elevating and preparing to follow Trump into the 2022 midterm elections suggests even greater complicity with his offenses against democracy.
If the 2024 GOP nominating contest were taking place now, Trump would be the favorite, and he is giving every sign that he may indeed run for the White House again, meaning the idea of a return to power is not out of the question — even if new evidence of a despotic temperament might harm his chances in a national election.

The inevitable Trump defense

The authors interviewed Trump for more than two hours. But his allies are sure to accuse them and the media of lying about his record, and officers like Milley of grandstanding, polishing their place in history and bearing grudges against the former commander-in-chief.
The detail in the book leaves a strong impression that Milley cooperated with the authors. But it doesn’t follow that he is just seeking to burnish his own legend. Such accounts are often a way of making clear exactly what happened — with a thin veneer of deniability for non-partisan military officers. And the armed forces remain one of the few institutions in American life to retain broad public respect.
Furthermore, Trump’s behavior as depicted here is familiar from other new accounts of how a defeated President lashed out like a toppling dictator late last year. In those books, which back up contemporary reporting, including by CNN, Trump comes across as delusional, self-pitying, desperate, angry and vindictive, seeking to save his political skin while ignoring the democratic will of voters, all while negligently refusing to deal with the real emergency — the murderous and worsening coronavirus pandemic that would claim its 400,000th victim before he left office in January.
The books and media accounts are sketching the kind of historical record that Trump’s pliant Republican allies on Capitol Hill sought to prevent by killing off a bipartisan plan for an independent commission into the January 6 insurrection.
The new accounts add to a staggering anecdotal, journalistic, legal and political narrative — augmented by Trump’s own public inflammatory remarks and actions — of the most aberrant and dangerous presidency of modern times and maybe ever.
Still, if there is one reassuring aspect of the latest account, it is that the military was well aware of the potential danger posed by Trump and the compliant political aides he installed in the White House after systematically driving out professional civil servants, diplomats and former military and intelligence officers — the so-called adults who, early on, tried to contain his wild instincts. And as well as the military, other institutions — including the courts and even the Justice Department under an Attorney General William Barr, who often did Trump’s political bidding — stood firm against his attempts to steal the election. Their example casts a poor light on the democratically-elected Republican lawmakers who refused to do their duty to hold another branch of government to account and to protect the Constitution.

The plan of the Joint Chiefs

The most surprising revelation from Leonnig and Rucker, who cite friends, lawmakers and colleagues of Milley, was that the Joint Chiefs discussed a plan to resign, one-by-one, rather than carry out orders from Trump that they considered to be illegal, dangerous or ill-advised.
Such a sequence would have precipitated the most serious civil-military crisis and chain-of-command disruption in decades, a fact that underscores how seriously the top brass took the possibility of a revolutionary moment.
Milley was concerned that personnel moves that put Trump acolytes in positions of power at the Pentagon and raised alarm in Washington at the time, including the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper, were sinister omens.
“Milley told his staff that he believed Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military,” Leonnig and Rucker reported.
Rucker and Leonnig interviewed more than 140 sources for the book, though most were given anonymity to speak candidly. Milley is quoted extensively and comes off in a positive light as someone who tried to keep democracy alive after receiving a warning from an old friend who is not named.
“What they are trying to do here is overturn the government,” the friend said, according to the authors. “This is all real, man. You are one of the few guys who are standing between us and some really bad stuff.”
Milley apologized after being seen as too close to Trump in June 2020, when, wearing military fatigues, he joined the President in a controversial photo-op after protesters were cleared from the square outside the White House.
But according to the new book, he feared that the President would try to fire FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel in order to solidify his control over the intelligence services.
Such a scenario was widely feared late last year. Though it did not happen, Trump did have past form in this area, having fired former FBI Director James Comey, before going on television to say he did it because of the Russia investigation.
In retrospect, the period following the election — one of the most harrowing in the modern history of the United States given Trump’s trashing of democracy and the sacking of the US Capitol by his supporters — was even more terrifying behind the scenes.
But events since have shown that the danger did not pass when Trump left the White House on the morning of January 20. In fact, a new threat is rising given the still vast political influence of a modern American demagogue.

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Myanmar military adopts ‘four cuts’ to stamp out coup opponents

On May 24 in Myanmar’s Kachin State, 13-year-old Awng Di walked over to his aunt’s house about noontime to feed her chickens. Thirty minutes later, heavy artillery crashed through the chicken coop; Awng Di died before reaching the nearby clinic.

“Our family has never been involved in politics … We’re just trying to survive,” Awng Di’s mother told Al Jazeera. “Now, I want to curse [the military soldiers] every time I see them.”

Momauk township, where Awng Di was from, has been the site of clashes between the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military, and the Kachin Independence Army, the armed wing of an ethnic armed organisation, since April. The uptick in violence in Momauk and other parts of Kachin State has displaced more than 11,000 people, according to UN estimates.

The clashes in Momauk mark a broader escalation in fighting across the country since the February 1 military coup, as decades-long conflicts between the Tatmadaw and ethnic armed organisations in Myanmar’s border areas resume or accelerate, and civilian defence forces emerge in townships that had not previously seen fighting.

In response to the increase in armed resistance, the Tatmadaw has launched indiscriminate air and ground strikes on civilian areas, displacing 230,000 people since the coup. Security forces have also looted and burned homes, blocked aid access and the transport of relief items, restricted water supplies, cut telecommunications networks, shelled places of refuge, and killed and arrested volunteers seeking to deliver humanitarian assistance.

According to Naw Htoo Htoo, program director of the Karen Human Rights Group, the Tatmadaw’s patterns of violence since the coup mark the continuation of a strategy known as four cuts, which the military began using in Karen State in the 1960s and has since deployed against civilian populations in other ethnic minority areas.

“[The Tatmadaw] doesn’t use the words ‘four cuts’ any more, but the strategy is definitely the same as the four cuts that they used on ethnic people for over 70 years,” said Naw Htoo Htoo.

Through means including restricting access to food, funds, intelligence and recruits, the strategy seeks to starve the support base of armed resistance and turn civilians against resistance groups.

In addition to Karen State, the armed forces have also used the strategy in areas including Kachin and Rakhine states, most notoriously in northern Rakhine State in 2017 when its ‘clearance operations’ sent hundreds of thousands of mostly Muslim Rohingya fleeing across the border to Bangladesh.

According to Kim Jolliffe, an independent researcher focused on security and conflict in Myanmar, the four cuts strategy “treats civilians not just as ‘collateral damage’ but as a central resource in the battlefield.

“They are targeted directly with extreme violence and see their livelihoods intentionally destroyed so that armed groups cannot find sanctuary and civilian support,” he told Al Jazeera.

Indiscriminate violence

Since the coup, the Tatmadaw appears to have expanded its use of four cuts across the country, including in areas predominantly populated by the ethnic Bamar majority. In late March, after security forces looted homes in central Magway Region’s Gangaw township, locals began fighting back with hunting rifles. The Tatmadaw responded with heavy explosives and machine guns that killed four people and left more than 10,000 fleeing to the forest, according to local media group Myanmar Now.

Magway Region’s Pauk township also saw indiscriminate violence on the night of June 15, when more than 200 houses in Kinma village burned to the ground, killing an elderly couple trapped inside their home. Two Kinma residents who spoke to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity said they did not know about any clashes leading up to the fire, but according to Myanmar Now, the incident occurred days after skirmishes between local resistance fighters and plainclothes police and soldiers.

One of the villagers told Al Jazeera that he saw at least nine people in plainclothes enter the village at about 11pm on June 15, setting homes on fire and shooting at the village’s cattle, pigs and buffaloes.

The Tatmadaw has blamed the incident on 40 “terrorists” and said that media who accused it of torching the village were trying to discredit it.

The military spokesperson did not answer repeated calls from Al Jazeera seeking comment on the incidents of violence or the use of the “four cuts” strategy.

Now, the residents of Kinma are scattered in nearby villages or staying in makeshift shelters in the jungle, where they are running low on food and supplies, according to Than Tun Aung, the pseudonym for one of the two villagers from Kinma interviewed by Al Jazeera. “Collecting aid is challenging because there might be police or soldiers along the way,” he said. “We are always alert and ready to run.”

‘All lives are threatened’

Kayah State and neighbouring southern Shan State, which had been peaceful before the coup, have also been the target of intense Tatmadaw attacks since May 23, when a group calling itself the Karenni People’s Defence Force overran a police station in the town of Moebye in Shan State’s Pekon township and fighting quickly spread across the region. While civilian defence fighters conducted targeted ambushes with homemade weapons, the Tatmadaw launched what the UN described as “indiscriminate attacks”, firing artillery and guns into civilian areas and displacing 100,000 people, most of whom are now living in nearby forests.

Churches, where some have sought shelter, have been repeatedly attacked, including the Sacred Heart Church in Kayah State’s Loikaw township, which was shelled on May 24, killing four people.

Aid delivery in Kayah and Shan is difficult and dangerous. The Tatmadaw has blocked the flow of goods into conflict-affected townships, killed and arrested aid volunteers, and killed two displaced people as they tried to fetch rice from their homes.

Myanmar military adopts ‘four cuts’ to stamp out coup opponentsThe Myanmar military has stepped up attacks on civilians and aid deliveries as opposition to its coup has grown. Residents in Loikaw say this church, where people had taken shelter, was shelled by the armed forces [File: Kantarawaddy Times via AFP]

Joseph Reh, a volunteer relief worker in Pekon township who preferred his real name not be disclosed for security reasons, told Al Jazeera that his group initially used white flags when delivering aid in the hope it would protect them, but that security forces shot at them anyway.

His group stockpiled food and relief items in a school, but was initially unable to distribute the goods due to the risk of being attacked. On the afternoon of June 8, when volunteers attempted to carry sacks of rice to displaced people hiding in the mountains, he said that security forces fired at the group’s van, forcing it to turn back.

“Because of that, they found out where we keep our food and supplies,” said Joseph Reh. “They came to the school, took all our supplies to a field, and burned them” that evening. In total, he said more than 80 sacks of rice were destroyed, as well as stockpiles of other dry food items, medical supplies, an ambulance and a car.

“They destroyed things they weren’t supposed to destroy and which weren’t related to the people’s defence forces they are fighting,” said Joseph Reh. “The food supplies they burned were purely for displaced people … The ambulance they burned was not related to the fight at all. It said RESCUE and had a red cross logo.”

According to Joseph Reh, security forces fired into the mountains for the next two days, further restricting aid delivery.

In addition to shortages of food and supplies, displaced people face insufficient shelter and medical care. In Chin State’s Mindat township, where civilian defence forces took up hunting rifles and homemade weapons in mid-May, the Tatmadaw launched heavy weapon attacks which displaced more than 20,000 people. At least six displaced people have since died from lack of access to healthcare, according to Radio Free Asia.

“Everything is under military control and all lives are threatened,” said Salai Shane, the pseudonym for the head of a volunteer emergency response group in Mindat. He described “extreme difficulties” when trying to access displaced people.

Myanmar military adopts ‘four cuts’ to stamp out coup opponentsDemonstrators in Mandalay prepare to burn a mock coffin for army ruler Min Aung Hlaing on July 3. The military’s use of extreme force against protesters is raising further anger at the regime [File: Time For Revolution via Reuters]

On June 13, one of his group’s vehicles was seized en route from Pakokku, Magway region, to Mindat, while transporting food and raincoats; Salai Shane has since lost contact with the driver. Security forces arrested another member of the group on June 19 and confiscated his motorbike and the relief supplies which he was transporting to displaced people. During a week in custody, he was beaten and interrogated, according to Salai Shane’s account.

With aid volunteers having been shot dead in Kayah State, Salai Shane says he is especially fearful of delivering aid on foot. “Sometimes there is no route for motorbikes and we have to carry items by ourselves over several trips,” he said. “If we are in the forest or the jungle, we can be killed and our bodies disappeared.”

Military fuels anger

According to independent researcher Kim Jolliffe, the Tatmadaw is willing to do “unfathomable things” to the general public in order to retain control. “It knows only one way to deal with opposition and that is to beat every dissenting element of society into submission through extreme force,” he said.

But while the four cuts strategy may seek to turn the public against armed resistance or weaken resolve, Naw Htoo Htoo of the Karen Human Rights Group says the approach is likely to backfire.

“In the short term, there might be some impact on armed resistance due to food and water shortages and limited access to resources, but for the long term, [the Tatmadaw] will not be able to govern anywhere,” she said. “The more they oppress the people, the more civilians become stronger, because when they deliberately attack everyone, the people hate them more.”

Victims of Tatmadaw violence since the coup told Al Jazeera that the experiences have cemented their hatred of the security forces and made them even more determined to ensure their downfall.

Myanmar military adopts ‘four cuts’ to stamp out coup opponentsThe burned-out remains of Kinma VIllage. Local residents say the military torched their homes. An elderly couple were unable to escape and died in the fire [File: Pauk Township News via AFP]

“It will never be possible for us to view the military positively,” Than Tun Aung of Kinma village told Al Jazeera. “We just want to continue living peacefully as farmers … We have to end this military regime or we will suffer for our entire lives.”

In Mindat, Salai Shane has come to a similar conclusion. “If civilian defence forces could defeat the military and remove them from the area, we would be able to freely resume business and agricultural activities and live better lives,” he said. “We cannot separate the two: armed resistance groups are made up of civilians, because we all hate the military regime and aim to abolish it. Restricting aid to civilians will only delay the armed resistance movement, but cannot stop it.”

Author: Emily Fishbein
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US sanctions 22, including Myanmar ministers, for military coup

US sanctions 22, including Myanmar ministers, for military coup

Several government ministers, military coup leaders and adult members of their families are among those being targeted.

The United States has imposed fresh sanctions on 22 individuals including four Myanmar government ministers in response to the February military coup and attacks against the country’s pro-democracy movement.

In a two-pronged action, the Treasury and Commerce Departments announced on Friday the punishments as part of Washington’s continued response to the overthrow of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the new sanctions were levied “in response to the brutal campaign of violence perpetrated by the Burmese military regime and to continue imposing costs in connection with the military coup.”

The sanctions do not target the Myanmar people, but are aimed at pressuring the military to “immediately restore Burma’s (Myanmar’s) path to democracy,” Blinken said.

The sanctions target Myanmar’s minister of information Chit Naing, minister for investment Aung Naing Oo, labour and immigration minister Myint Kyaing, and Thet Thet Khine, the minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement.

Three members of the powerful State Administrative Council were also hit with sanctions, as were 15 spouses and adult children of officials, in an expansion of US punishments imposed in February, March and May following the coup.

Under the sanctions, all US property in the name of the individuals are blocked, and Americans or people in the US are prohibited from conducting property or interest transactions with them.

Andrea Gacki, director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement the action demonstrates Washington “will continue to impose increasing costs on Burma’s military and promote accountability for those responsible for the military coup and ongoing violence”.

The US and other western countries have already imposed several sanctions against individuals in Myanmar since the coup.

Death toll

The Department of Commerce meanwhile slapped sanctions on four business entities: King Royal Technologies Co, which provides satellite communications services supporting the military; and Wanbao Mining and its two subsidiaries, which have revenue-sharing agreements with a company that helps fund the country’s defence ministry.

The actions come as Myanmar rejected new figures released by the United Nations, which said there were reports from within the country that security forces have killed at least 883 unarmed people, including at least 40 who are believed to have died in custody.

At a Tuesday briefing, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters that the global agency’s country team also determined that 5,202 people were in detention as a result of their opposition to the military takeover.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it “strongly objects” to the numbers presented by the United Nations.

“The United Nations is requested not to release one-sided remarks without verification and to verify sensitive information with relevant focal ministries before its release,” the statement added.

Authorities on Wednesday released more than 2,000 anti-coup protesters from prisons across Myanmar, including local journalists jailed after reporting critically on the military’s crackdown.

On Saturday, there have been reports of the possible release of more people from prison, as the country’s military leader Gen Min Aung Hlaing marks his birthday.

Meanwhile, protesters remained defiant of Min Aung Hlaing’s leadership, with several protests held across the nation on Saturday denouncing him. Many protesters also held a symbolic cremation of his image while laying funeral wreaths emblazoned with the general’s name.

Protests were even held in the country’s second city of Mandalay despite a lockdown order on Friday due to the spread of COVID. At least two million residents are covered by the order.

Myanmar’s creaking healthcare system has already been struggling to respond to the pandemic even before the February coup that deposed Aung San Suu Kyi.

Since the coup, thousands of doctors, volunteers and civil servants have joined a mass civil disobedience campaign to protest against the military regime.

Myanmar has reported 3,347 virus-related deaths, although true figures are likely to be higher.

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France on the brink? Letter warning Macron with military coup backed by majority of French

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

France on the brink? Letter warning Macron with military coup backed by majority of French

The letter was signed by 20 retired generals, along with other senior officers, and at least 18 serving soldiers. In response, the French government has said the serving soldiers will face military sanction whilst ex-military signatories will be stripped of privileges.

Originally published by right-wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles the letter claimed “Islamism” and “anti-racism” are threatening civil war in France.

It added “lax” government measures may require “the intervention of our [military] comrades on active duty in a perilous mission of protection of our civilisational values”.

A poll by LCI for Harris Interactive found 58 percent of the French public support the letter whilst 49 percent would back the military if it decides to “act on its own to restore order”.

Some 73 percent of respondents feared France could disintegrate whilst 86 percent believe there are parts of the country where French law no longer applies.

In a damning criticism of Mr Macron 62 percent said the government undermined law and order with its response to the Gilet Jaune protests in 2018-19 whilst an extraordinary 45 percent warned France should expect civil war.

Reacting to the letter French prime minister Jean Castex said those soldiers involved had violated the “honour and duty” of the army and France’s republican principles.

General Francois Lecointre, armed forces chief of staff, said serving soldiers who signed must appear before a senior military council and could be “put into immediate retirement”.

French defence ministry spokesman Herve Grandjean suggested the soldiers had violated military rules on “openly criticising the government or appealing to comrades to take up arms on national territory”.

READ MORE: Eurostar row boiled over as France and Belgium ‘think UK is insane’

Ms Le Pen is widely expected to face Mr Macron in the crucial second round of France’s presidential election next year.

A recent Harris Interactive poll concluded Mr Macron will win in the second round by 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent.

However, the margin is much closer than in 2017 when Ms Le Pen only secured 34 percent of the vote.

France has been rocked by a series of deadly terrorist attacks over the past few years.

Last week a female police employee was stabbed to death southwest of Paris.

The attacker, a Tunisian national, was shot dead by officers.

In response, Mr Macron said France would not capitulate to “Islamist terrorism”.

Last October Samuel Paty, a French teacher, was beheaded outside his school after showing controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammed during a class on free speech.

The attacker, an 18-year-old Chechen, was later shot and killed by police.

In total 1,613 French adults were surveyed for the LCI poll conduced by Harris Interactive.