MSNBC's Joe Scarborough brushed off Republican outrage over Joint Chiefs chairman Mark Milley conducting backchannel conversations with his Chinese counterpart, saying there's plenty of historical precedent for such communications.
Republican senators, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), are irate over Milley's communications with China in the waning days of Donald Trump's administration, but the "Morning Joe" host pointed out several examples of Cabinet and military officials speaking to their foreign counterparts to prevent possible war.
"Of course, Republicans acting shocked, just absolutely shocked that phone calls would be made from generals and other people inside of an administration where a president was trying to overturn the results of a democratic election," Scarborough said. "These people are children. It might help them to actually read history books and understand that this has happened before. It has happened at times when presidents were not in the best shape, as Donald Trump was not in good shape, I would say for his entire presidency, but especially after Jan. 6."
"You can go back to October of 1973, during the Arab-Israeli war of 1973," he continued. "The war was in the fourth or fifth day, escalating towards possible nuclear war, and Henry Kissinger was fielding calls from 10 Downing Street. They wanted to speak with [Richard] Nixon, he was drunk, depressed, unable to speak, and Kissinger said no. For the next six, seven months, you had Kissinger, Alexander Haig and others from time to time calling our allies, calling our enemies and assuring them that everything was going to be okay, the United States wasn't going to act in a way that would start a world war."
"That's what leaders have to do from time to time," Scarborough added, "and there's nothing shocking and new about it."
Scarborough then zoomed out and examined what Republicans are supposedly outraged about.
"They're upset he's calling a leader in China saying, don't think you can take advantage of the United States of America, democracy can be chaotic but we're strong, we're solid," he said. "We're in good shape, nothing's going to happen, we're not going to act erratically, and you're not going to take advantage of us. I'm sorry, this is something -- Republicans don't like this, this is something, are you so stupid, I just got to ask, are you so stupid, are you so ignorant of how things work that you don't know that from time to time generals talk to generals? Diplomats talk to diplomats, and they send that message, hey, things look kind of crazy in the United States, don't take advantage of this situation. Don't take advantage of it, because we're solid."
"This is something you want a guy to be fired for?" Scarborough added. "Can you grow up a little bit? I'm asking, seriously, can you stop playing for your Twitter feed or the lowest common denominator, like in your district, because this is really about America's national security, and I just, I'm absolutely fascinated by the fact that you're attacking a general for telling China, you better not take advantage of us because the United States is strong, things get messy once in a while but that's called democracy, something you don't know anything about."
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