- Gen. Mark Milley reportedly warned Trump not to take military action against Iran.
- Milley told Trump “you’re gonna have a f—ing war” with Iran if the US striked, per a new book.
- The book by the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser and NYT’s Peter Baker comes out next year.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Top US Gen. Mark Milley feared that former President Donald Trump would take military action against Iran at the end of his presidency and repeatedly warned him not to, according to reporting for an upcoming book on the Trump presidency published in the New Yorker on Friday.
“If you do this, you’re gonna have a f—ing war,” Milley reportedly told the former president and his foreign policy advisors, who had pushed for a missile strike on the Middle Eastern country after Trump lost the 2020 election.
The topic of Iran was frequently raised in White House meetings in the months following the race, with Trump “seemingly willing to do anything to stay in power,” according to a co-author of the book, The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser. Correspondingly, the New York Times in late November reported that Trump consulted top advisors – including Milley – about potential options for striking Iran’s primary nuclear site and was ultimately talked out of it.
At one meeting in which Trump was not present, his advisors had again brought up taking action against Iran. Milley questioned “why they were so intent on attacking the country,” Glasser reports.
“Because they are evil,” then-Vice President Mike Pence reportedly answered.
Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, eventually helped end the prospects of a potential conflict with Iran, per the book.
On January 3, Glasser reports Trump had held an Oval Office meeting to receive an update on Iran’s latest nuclear activities. Milley, along with then-national security advisor Robert O’Brien and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, each informed Trump that any military action against Iran would be impossible at this point.
Trump appeared to heed the warnings, and the focus on Iran faded out, per the book.
The book is slated to come out next year and is co-authored by Glasser and her husband, The New York Times’ Peter Baker. The pair conducted nearly 200 interviews for their reporting on Trump’s time in the White House, according to Glasser.
The US and Iran have been adversaries for decades, dating back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the hostage crisis at the US Embassy that began the same year, but tensions reached historic heights under Trump.
Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was at heart of animosity. His administration employed a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, vying to cripple the Iranian economy via harsh sanctions in the hopes of eventually negotiating a more stringent version of the nuclear pact.
The Trump administration’s strategy did not work. Iran instead took gradual steps away from the 2015 deal, which was designed to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Meanwhile, a series of skirmishes in the Persian Gulf involving attacks on oil tankers, which the US blamed on Iran, raised concerns of a new conflict in the region.
In January 2020, Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani. The strike pushed the US and Iran to the brink of war, prompting a retaliatory missile attack on US troops in Iraq that left dozens injured. Both sides ultimately stepped away from a broader conflict, but the heightened tensions between the US and Iran have continued into the Biden era.