Welcome back World readers for tonight's 1,792-word (7-minute) journey, much of which takes place in and around the Pentagon. New readers can sign up here.
Heads up: I've got two suggestions for your calendar tomorrow, though sadly they overlap.
Now, let's dive in.
Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty
Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.
Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.
The backlash began when protesters and journalists were violently expelled from Lafayette Park so that Trump — flanked by Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley — could walk across the square to St. John's church.
The response from former military leaders was swift and harsh, particularly considering their previous reticence to wade into politically charged waters.
The criticism reverberated through the Pentagon, and its leaders began to draw a line.
Milley, meanwhile, sent a letter to military leaders reiterating their duty to preserve and protect the Constitution, including the freedoms of speech and assembly.
"It’s important for them to speak with one voice," Leon Panetta, a former defense secretary (2011–2013), tells Axios of the military's leaders.
Milley (R) and Esper (C) on their much-criticized walk. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty
Panetta says he finds it hard to put himself in Esper's shoes because the presidents under whom he served "would not take advantage of you and your position."
Zoom in: Panetta says Esper and Milley should not have been surprised that Trump would seek to “use a photo op to make a point.”
Panetta says Esper and Milley were both likely affected by the flood of criticism.
The bottom line: "Deep down, there’s always a lurking question about if the president does something, or demands something that is wrong, what do you do?"
A demonstration last night near the White House. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty
Driving the news: A White House spokesperson reiterated today that "all options are on the table," including invoking the Insurrection Act to send troops into the street.
But while protests have continued in Washington and other major cities, there have been fewer scenes of violence and looting as the week has carried on.
The latest: It appears those threats will no longer be backed by the 82nd Airborne, which was dispatched to the D.C. area but never entered the capital.
What to watch: If the scene at St. John's church proves the climax of America's current militarized moment, it may be in large part because the military men in the photo —and many outside of it — decided to draw a line.
A mural to George Floyd in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: Gordwin Odhiambo/AFP via Getty Images
The Center for Strategic and International Studies has gathered reactions from African thinkers to the killing of George Floyd and the protests sweeping the U.S.
Excerpts, shared with Axios:
Gathering for a socially distanced protest to mark the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, tonight in Hong Kong. Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
1. Hong Kongers defied an attempt to ban an annual commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre, 31 years ago.
2. Militias fighting on behalf of Libya’s UN-backed government regained full control today of Tripoli, the capital, per the BBC.
3. U.S Navy veteran Michael White has been freed after 683 days held in Iran. He was the first American known to be detained by Iran during Trump’s tenure.
4. Three attacks in the span of 48 hours have left at least 50 people dead in Burkina Faso. The country has been battling armed extremist groups since 2017.
5. The Philippines has announced that it no longer plans to terminate a major military pact with the U.S. — at least for now, Axios fellow Camille Elemia reports.
A view of Hong Kong before the 2018 Formula 1 Grand Prix. Photo: Lars Baron/Getty Images
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has authored one of the more interesting pieces of analysis I've read from a sitting leader, in Foreign Affairs.
His argument: Southeast Asian countries can't afford to choose between the U.S. and China, and they hope not to be forced to.
Lee arrives there after an examination of the region's fortunes since 1945 and its uncertain future in a climate of superpower competition.
Post-1945, the U.S. made prosperity possible for countries like Singapore through its security umbrella, rules-based system and deep economic engagement, he writes.
Then, in the 1970s, China opened up and developed rapidly, quickly going from "economically inconsequential for the rest of Asia to being the region’s biggest economy."
Fast forward: China is gathering political influence to match its economic clout, and the U.S. is reassessing a system many now feel allowed China to rise at America's expense.
The bottom line: Lee contends that both countries will continue to wield power in the region for some time — the question is how.
Lunchtime, in Beijing. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
"Hey guys, I've just re-seeded that!"— A homeowner in Australia asking Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the press to get off his lawn. Morrison obliged with a thumbs up and "it's all good."