Top U.S. General Warned Netanyahu: 'You're Gonna Have a Fucking War' With Iran

According to an excerpt from a new book, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Mark Milley told Netanyahu in a 2020 Jerusalem meeting to 'back off with Trump' and stop calling for the former U.S. president to attack Iran

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington
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President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley in Washington, October 7, 2019.
Then-U.S. President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley in Washington, in 2019.Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington

WASHINGTON – Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was pushing Donald Trump to start "a fucking war" with Iran, the United States' top general had warned Netanyahu at the time, according to an excerpt released Monday from an upcoming book.

Journalists Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker's, "The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021,” details the White House's mulling of military options for attacking Iran in the final weeks of the Trump administration following Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory — largely at the behest of Netanyahu.

Glasser has previously reported on chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Mark Milley's efforts to prevent Netanyahu and more hawkish officials in the administration to attack Iran, quoting Milley's similar rhetorical warning to Trump. This, however, is the first report of Milley issuing this same warning to Netanyahu directly.

"Among those pushing the president to hit Iran before Biden’s inauguration, Milley believed, was the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. On December 18, the same day that Trump met with [Michael] Flynn to discuss instituting martial law, Milley met with Netanyahu at his home in Jerusalem to personally urge him to back off with Trump," wrote Baker and Glasser in an excerpt published in the New Yorker.

“If you do this, you’re gonna have a fucking war,” Milley told him, according to the excerpt. The Israeli prime minister's official Twitter account noted "the two discussed regional threats, especially the Iranian aggression" in its readout of the meeting.

Following the meeting, Iranian-backed militias fired rockets at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and tensions reached their peak ahead of the one-year anniversary of the U.S. killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps General Qassem Soleimani. Milley, however, reportedly told his staff that Trump "realized the clock ran out," shifting his focus to contesting the election results.

The efforts became particularly more pronounced after Trump fired U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who described in his own book, Netanyahu's supposed efforts to pressure Trump into taking military action against Iran's nuclear program.

The relevant sections concerning Netanyahu's efforts were redacted on the grounds of national security, though Esper did note that Netanyahu would push him personally on matters related to war with Iran, and he had confidence Netanyahu was pushing Trump in a similar fashion.

The book also details Trump's desire to have U.S. Army generals demonstrate loyalty similar to German generals under Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.

"The President’s loud complaint to John Kelly one day was typical: 'You fucking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals,' Glasser and Baker write.

"'Which generals?' Kelly asked. 'The German generals in World War II,' Trump responded," they write, to which Kelley reportedly said: “You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?”

"But, of course, Trump did not know that, 'No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,' the President replied. In his version of history, the generals of the Third Reich had been completely subservient to Hitler; this was the model he wanted for his military. Kelly told Trump that there were no such American generals, but the President was determined to test the proposition," Glasser and Baker added.

References to Nazi Germany also appear later where they write that "Milley feared that Trump’s “Hitler-like” embrace of his own lies about the election would lead him to seek a 'Reichstag moment,'" referring to Hitler using the 1933 German parliament fire as an opportunity to seize power.

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