Retired Admiral Michael Mullen was the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs Of Staff from 2007 to 2011, serving under both Presidents Bush and Obama. In an interview with FRANCE 24's Marc Perelman, he discussed the ongoing controversy in the US over President Trump's treatment of fallen soldiers' families, the risk of war with North Korea and the fate of the Iran nuclear deal.
Michael Mullen told FRANCE 24 he laments that criticism of President Trump’s handling of the recent deaths of US soldiers in Niger “has spun very much out of control” causing a "politicisation" of the issue.
While he believed the president had attempted to handle the issue sincerely, Mullen strongly rejected claims by Trump that his predecessors had not been in touch with families of fallen soldiers.
"I was personally there under both President Obama as well as President Bush and both were always moved by these losses, always did everything they could to show compassion and support," Mullen said.
The retired admiral went on to express concern that so many generals are playing leadership roles in the Trump administration, filling the key posts of Defense Secretary, National Security Advisor and White House Chief Of Staff.
"Relying on generals [on] active duty and retired to lead our government is not the government of the people, by the people and for the people", he said.
Mullen added he was "increasingly concerned" about North Korea and criticised the closing down of diplomatic channels which he said "are an absolute priority". "Unless we see some movement out of Beijing, I worry more and more that the probability goes up that we could end up in a war with North Korea", he told FRANCE 24.
On the US’s crisis with Iran, he urged Congress not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal or re-impose sanctions on Tehran. While conceding the agreement is not perfect, Mullen said "by all accounts, Iran is complying with the terms of the deal".