February 22, 2020

Franz Jägerstätter: Conscientious Objector


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Last month, Fox Searchlight Productions released Terrence Malick's new film A Hidden Life, about Austrian conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter. Jägerstätter was executed in 1943 for refusing to fight for the German state. Malick's film portrays the effects of this act of resistance, especially the devastating effects on Jägerstätter's wife and his children. It is an important film which shows the real-life implications of resisting the state in a totalitarian world. The film shows us the great difficulty of holding to one's principles in the face of draconian and violent punishment heaped upon those who refuse to participate in the state's designs.

Unfortunately, the film's subtlety and focus on the emotional states of the protagonists left many reviewers wondering what Jägerstätter's motivations really were. One reviewer thought the movie was really about today's politics, declaring the movie to be "a warning for 2019 America," suggesting, ridiculously, that the Third Reich and the Anschluss are comparable to the modern American political milieu. Another critic recognized Jägerstätter's religious motivations, but wondered about the details: "Jägerstätter acts, we’re told, because he is a good man and because of Christ’s example of self-sacrifice. That may be true, but we learn very little else about him." Another critic declared the movie to be about "one person acting in conscience" without any reference to Jägerstätter's religious views.

Given that the film does indeed leave much — perhaps too much to the imagination — rather than review A Hidden Life, it may be more useful to look at Jägerstätter in his own words.

Jägerstätter the Man

Jägerstätter, who would be declared a martyr by the Catholic Church and titled Blessed Franz Jägerstätter in 2007, had remained almost completely unknown outside his home village in the years following the war. Thanks largely to the work of sociologist Gordon Zahn, however, information on Jägerstätter has become increasingly accessible in recent decades. With the 2009 release of Franz Jägerstätter: Letters and Writings from Prison, edited by Erna Putz, English-speaking audiences now finally have firsthand access to the Austrian farmer’s religious and political thought.

Thanks to these writings, we find that Jägerstätter's ideas of conscience were not vague or generalized. They were not based in modern secular ideas of enlightenment or popular notions of human rights. Rather, they were deeply rooted in the Christian gospels, and in his Catholic religious faith. It is even quite possible Jaegerstatter was encouraged in his anti-Nazi views both by the papal encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge (1937) and perhaps also by the anti-Nazi dissent of Jägerstätter's local bishop Johannes Gföllner of Linz, who died in 1941.

A farmer with a rudimentary formal education, Jägerstätter had been the only one in his village to vote against the annexation of Austria by the German state. By 1943, Jägerstätter had already long been a critic of the Nazis, and was known to say “pfui Hitler” (read: "phooey!") in response to “heil Hitler” from others in his village. Jägerstätter, who gave the impression of being an extremely run-of-the-mill farmer, was nonetheless unusual in his religiosity, and over time came to the conclusion that National Socialism was fundamentally incompatible with his faith. Although he was not inclined toward political activism, he was eventually forced into a position of resistance.

Made a citizen of the Reich against his will, Jägerstätter was drafted into the army and forced to take part in training exercises that took him away from his wife and his three young daughters for long periods of time. His experiences in the army only strengthened his resistance to the National Socialist war machine, and following a long series of delays and furloughs, Jägerstätter was ordered to report for combat duty in March of 1943. Concluding that he would not kill Poles or Russians for the glory of the German state, Jägerstätter reported for combat duty and declared that he would not fight. He was immediately arrested. In 1943, he was tried, convicted of treason and “demoralizing the troops,” and on August 9, 1943, at 4:00 PM he was executed by guillotine in Berlin-Brandenburg Prison.

The Nazi Creed

For a German or Austrian who was paying attention during this period, it was perhaps not difficult to see the inherent incompatibility between Nazism and Christianity. The notorious Nazi judge Roland Freisler, for example, had declared before the war that

Christianity and we are alike in only one respect: we lay claim to the whole individual. From which do you take your orders? From the hereafter or from Adolf Hitler? To whom do you pledge your loyalty and your faith?1

Long before the Anschluss, in 1933, when such things could be said without risk of a lengthy prison term, Bishop Gföllner declared publicly that “Nazism is spiritually sick with materialistic racial delusions, un-Christian nationalism, a nationalistic view of religion, with what is quite simply sham Christianity.” Again in 1937, Gföllner stated that “It is impossible to be both a good Catholic and a true Nazi.” By 1941, though, even those who thought similarly remained silent out of fear. Gföllner was gone, and many assuaged their consciences by telling themselves Nazism was necessary to fight against the Communists.

Most Catholics — Like Most Austrians and Germans at the Time — Went with the Flow

The lack of outside reassurance did not daunt Jägerstätter. Writing in 1942, he referred back to Mit Brenender Sorge and concluded that since National Socialism is “even more dangerous than Communism,” the Christian was morally free to refuse military service: “Is it not more Christian for someone to give himself as a sacrifice than to have to murder others who possess a right to life on earth?” In such comments, typical for Jägerstätter, he was communicating a personal mode of thinking that was far more radical than the popular interpretation of political matters at the time.

In the introduction to Erna Putz’s edition of Jägerstätter’s texts, Jim Forest notes that,

if not a doctrine found in any catechism, it was widely believed [at that time in Europe] that any sins you commit under obedience to your government are not your personal sins but are regarded by God as the sins of those who lead the state.

In fact, this was precisely the advice Jägerstätter received from the new bishop of Linz, Joseph Fliesser, with whom Jägerstätter met to discuss the morality of his upcoming conscientious objection. According to Jägerstätter, the bishop may have feared that Jägerstätter himself was a Gestapo spy and preferred to not even discuss the matter, but he counseled in favor of obedience. Jägerstätter later commented, without anger, that “[t]hey don’t dare commit themselves or it will be their turn next.” But in response to the argument that one is not morally responsible for immoral acts he is ordered to do, Jägerstätter dissented.

According to Forest,

for Franz it seemed obvious that, if God gives each of us free will and a conscience, each of us is responsible for what we do and what we fail to do, all the more so if we are consciously aware we have allowed ourselves to become servants of evil masters.

Not allowing oneself to become a servant of “evil masters” was of particular importance to Jägerstätter. He repeatedly criticized his fellow members of the “German-speaking people” for allowing the National Socialists to take power. Referring specifically to the Catholic regions of Bavaria and Austria, Jägerstätter asked:

Are Austria and Bavaria blameless in that we now have a N.S. [National Socialist] state instead of a Christian one? Did National Socialism simply fall on us from the sky?

He went on:

I believe that the German-speaking people never participated as strongly in Christian charitable activities as they are now engaging in the N.S. organizations. Nor were they as ready to contribute their money to church programs.

Frequently in his writings, Jägerstätter referred to National Socialism as a “stream” that pulled so many people along in its current, and from which it was difficult to escape.

Jägerstätter’s Ideology of Political Resistance

The nature of this stream helped explain why so few resisted the National Socialist regime, for as Jägerstätter noted, there are many “who do not want to swim against the stream because to do so is more difficult than to allow oneself to be washed along by the waves.” Yet in Jägerstätter’s mind, resistance was always possible no matter how strong the current of the stream might be. No matter how difficult, Jägerstätter wrote that resistance would be worth it:

Many among us have already died, though not for Christ but for a N.S. victory. Was a no such an impossibility and more beyond the capability of many people in 1938 than a yes? I believe not. But what can a no still bring about? Will it require the participation of many people? Without a doubt, one person need not ask others what it would mean and accomplish. For each individual, a no would have value in itself because it would free that individual’s soul.

Once the individual refused to consent, he could then take concrete action to refuse to participate in the regime:

In order to come to this personal decision, someone must be ready to stand up for Christ and the Christian faith, even if it means giving up one’s life. These people who have come to this decision can immediately withdraw from the N.S. Volk community and make no donations to it. Further, if they want to exercise Christian love of neighbor, they can contribute their wages to the poor without the help of the W.H.W. [the Winterhilfswerk, the Nazi welfare agency] or the Public Assistance program. Then they will be free to do with themselves as they want.

Jägerstätter did all of this himself at great personal cost in the form of alienation from his neighbors and lost income from the state, from which he refused to accept public assistance. Interestingly, we see here in Jägerstätter’s political program a plan of mass civil disobedience that could have been inspired by Etienne de la Boetie’s Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, although it is unlikely that Jägerstätter ever read it. In fact, we find in his writings a man who understood the key to undermining political power in the face of a dictator with untrammeled power. In Murray Rothbard’s introduction to the Discourse, he states that

Thus, after concluding that all tyranny rests on popular consent, La Boétie eloquently concludes that “obviously there is no need of fighting to overcome this single tyrant, for he is automatically defeated if the country refuses consent to its own enslavement.” Tyrants need not be expropriated by force; they need only be deprived of the public’s continuing supply of funds and resources. The more one yields to tyrants, La Boétie points out, the stronger and mightier they become.

Some would undoubtedly argue that open disobedience would only bring greater repression from those who did remain obedient, but in his mind, Jägerstätter failed to see how things would be worse had others like him actually stood their ground:

Things would be no worse today for genuine Christian faith in our land if the churches were no longer open and if thousands of Christians had poured out their blood and their lives for Christ and their faith. This would be better than now watching silently as there is more and more acceptance of falsehood.

In Jägerstätter’s time, as today, most saw resistance to tyrants as foolishness. It was much better to comply and save one’s skin. The Catholic clergy certainly did its part to talk Jägerstätter out of his plan of action. Jägerstätter’s local parish priest, who had himself served time in prison for speaking against Hitler, said, "I wanted to talk him out of it, but he defeated me again and again with words from the scriptures."

Jägerstätter Alone

Later, as the threat of execution became ever more real, Fr. Ferdinand Furthauer also tried to talk him out of it and later regretted his intervention, saying, “I often pray that Franz Jägerstätter may forgive me.” Jägerstätter’s wife, Franziska, was one of the few who supported him. According to Erna Putz,

[i]t was immediately clear to everyone that conscientious objection would cost Franz his life. His mother tried through relatives to change her son’s mind. Franziska spoke to him too, at the start. But as everyone tried to talk him round, as the arguments went on and he was quite alone against them all, she stood by him. “If I had not stood by him, he would have had no one,” she explained.

When many dragged their heels in going along with the regime, why did Jägerstätter draw such a clear line that brought condemnation down upon him? We know it was not just resistance to National Socialism’s inherent anti-Catholicism. The reasons were many.

Jägerstätter explained that “I cannot and may not take an oath in favor of a government that is fighting an unjust war.” It is unclear under what circumstances Jägerstätter would have been willing to take up arms for the state, although he did outline his objections to the National Socialist program specifically. Of great importance is the fact that he simply did not believe the Nazi propaganda. Hitler’s speeches and the speeches of his propagandists frequently mentioned God and the defense of Christian civilization as justification for the war. Jägerstätter clearly rejected this on the grounds that the National Socialists were anti-Christian, but also on the grounds that wars of conquest are, in their very nature, counter to the act of defending the faith:

When our Catholic missionaries went into pagan lands in order to make people Christian, did they go in with fighter planes and bombs[?]…Are we Christians today smarter than Christ himself? Do some of us truly believe that we can rescue Christian belief in Europe from a decline…by means of this massive shedding of blood? Did our good savior, whom we should always follow, go against paganism with his apostles as we German-speaking Christians are now going against [Bolshevism]?

We see that it was not just the nature of National Socialism but also the war itself that Jägerstätter so opposed. And it is important to note that he knew little of the true horrors of the war. What he did know about the atrocities and death camps of the east was largely hearsay and rumor in Jägerstätter’s place and time. He simply knew that bombing women and children in the name of national defense or in the name of defending the faith was not something he was going to support.

What of the advice others gave to him to save his own skin and rejoin his family? For Jägerstätter, these arguments failed even on a practical level. Consenting to go fight in the war, where he would be called upon to kill innocents, was only playing the odds. There had been already 750,000 casualties for the Reich at Stalingrad alone. If Jägerstätter were shipped off to the eastern front, what were the odds that he would ever return? So many men in his village had already been killed in action, leaving behind impoverished widows and orphans. So Jägerstätter had the choice of playing the odds, abandoning his convictions and hoping he might avoid a meaningless death on the front. Or he might refuse to kill for the state, even if it meant certain death. If one is to risk one’s life, Jägerstätter thought, would it not better to do it for Christ than for Hitler? In Jägerstätter’s view, if no one is guaranteed another day on earth, why let what little time one has left be wasted in fighting for the National Socialists? Why not die a free man rather than a slave? In his last note, Jägerstätter wrote,

Now I’ll write down a few words as they come to me from my heart. Although I am writing them with my hands in chains, this is still much better than if my will were in chains.

Very few came to the same conclusion, and, at the end, even Jägerstätter longed for some corroboration of his position. This came mere hours before his execution, when he was told that Fr. Franz Reinisch had recently been executed, also for refusing to fight for the Reich. This news strengthened Jägerstätter’s resolve all the more, and although we now know that over four thousand priests were executed by the Nazis for various sorts of disobedience, these cases were known by few at the time. Jägerstätter was executed as a traitor on August 9, 1943.

In the following years, Jägerstätter’s former neighbors regarded him as either an impractical eccentric or an outright traitor, and they offered his widow little help. In one interview, Jim Forest noted that after calmly recounting the death of her husband, Franziska Jägerstätter “broke down in tears while describing the subsequent behavior of her neighbors.” Franziska even lived in fear, and she later explained that “I thought no one would ever know about him. I hid his letters under my mattress for decades.”

Thanks to A Hidden Life, and the research of a tiny handful of scholars, Jägerstätter’s story is no longer in danger of being forgotten. And while the film does little to tell us the full story of why he refused to make war for the Nazis, perhaps its importance lies in how it shows just how difficult Jägerstätter’s choice was.

[Adapted from a 2012 article at LewRockwell.com.]

  • 1.From a letter to German dissenter Helmuth James von Moltke.(See: https://www.dioezese-linz.at/dl/llNMJKJkkMkNJqx4MJK/Shining_Example_4_church_nazism.pdf) Freisler — who was was not exactly known for a sublime knowledge of human affairs — was wrong in his assessment of Christianity. Christianity demands "the whole person" only in the metaphysical sense. In worldly matters, Christianity has always tolerated a wide diversity of political views, regime types, cultural mores, and other artifacts of human society and culture. There is no specifically Christian regime, and there is no Christian version of the Führer who issues orders to obedient partisans. On the other hand, Friesler was right about National Socialism and his view reflects the common view among National Socialists that Christianity was incompatible with the new utopian ideology of the Thousand-Year Reich.

Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for Mises Wire and The Austrian, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

Public Diplomacy Explained: What it Means and Why it Matters

What is public diplomacy? And what does it have to do with nation branding? For public diplomats and political communication experts, the answer might be obvious. But since public diplomacy is becoming increasingly important for cities and regions, not just nation-states, we thought it would be a good idea to find out about latest thinking on the topic. So we invited Nick Cull, Professor of Public Diplomacy at University of Southern California, Annenberg, to share his thoughts.

Here’s what Professor Cull had to say about the purpose and importance of public diplomacy in the 21st century.

Nick, what is public diplomacy (PD) about?

I argue that public diplomacy begins with listening and tell my students that the point is not to advance the independence on one country through public diplomacy, but to build an awareness of our mutual interdependence in an interconnected world, and to work for a common good.

States have come to understand that public diplomacy is all about relationships but the old propaganda approach is still so strong that they insist on thinking about ‘winning’. Winning and relationships don’t go together. Seeking to win your relationships is an excellent definition of a sociopath.

In the 21st century, public diplomacy professionals need to build relationships of value to all parties; seeking the ‘win-win’ scenario.

How important is public diplomacy in the 21st century?

I was struck by Simon Anholt’s remark at the COP 16 climate summit in Cancun back in 2010 that there was only one super-power left on the planet — public opinion — and feel that fact alone means that public diplomacy must be central to the practice of international relations for the century ahead.

I see more players coming into the mix every year and consider cities and regions as among the most significant of these.  I’ve been involved in the project to establish a global parliament of mayors, which is part of this process.

What does the future of public diplomacy look like?

I think that the future of public diplomacy lies in collaboration. No single player is rich enough or credible enough to ‘go it alone’ as the US or the USSR could do in the Cold War. Today actors need to arrange coalitions and partnerships around issues. This has happened in the past — the anti-Apartheid network of the 1970s and 80s is especially instructive — however I see this as the dominant mode of operation in the 21st century. Partners will include state, regional, commercial and NGO voices.

How does public diplomacy relate to the concept of nation branding?

I see nation branding as one of the most important tools of contemporary public diplomacy. Like public diplomacy, nation branding relies on a foundation of listening.

Interestingly the concept of nation branding has added a domestic dimension to public diplomacy, as the best branding campaigns require listening at home as well as overseas, and sometimes that leads to communications interventions at home to ‘maintain the quality of the brand.’

Learn more about the history of public diplomacy and nation branding in our interview with Nick Cull.

Latest public diplomacy insights

Feel like exploring the topic further? We invite you to browse through our collection of articles on public diplomacy. Or jump directly to our latest posts linked to public diplomacy:

Leading public diplomacy specialists

Get to know and learn from the mistakes and successes of public diplomacy specialists around the world.

Public diplomacy resources

The USC Center on Public Diplomacy (California, USA) and The Public Diplomat are both good sources for latest public diplomacy news and thinking.



Martin Boisen Researcher Profile

Martin Boisen (Copenhagen, 1981) is a Lecturer in Human Geography & Planning at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He graduated cum laude from Utrecht University in 2007, and has since manifested himself as both a scholar, a lecturer and an advisor in the field.

As a scholar, Martin has mainly studied why and how place marketing and place branding originated and evolved as managerial and professional disciplines in North-western Europe, and how this relates to our general understanding of place management and place governance.

On a more fundamental level, Martin is interested in the processes wherein people make places out of spaces by attributing meaning to them, and how these meanings are re-negotiated over time.
Martin is the owner of the advisory For the Love of Place, and the Vice-chairman of The International Place Branding Association.

Which topics linked to place branding are you most passionate about, as researcher?

As a researcher I study how place management, place marketing and place branding arose and evolved as part of urban and regional governance. My research area is limited to Europe, although my interest on the topic is global.

Which hashtag describes your research style best?


Key insights from your research so far?

1) Don’t forget that it is never ‘just’ about tourism. Place branding is inherently generic and covers the total sum, spirit and meaning of the place. Don’t reduce it to a destination or a proposition.

2) The meaning of the concepts matter beyond a semantic discussion: whether you call it ‘promotion’, ‘marketing’ or ‘branding’ creates different expectations and different organisational and managerial configurations.

3) In the end a good strategy is only a good strategy if it can be implemented. The approach taken to place brand management is more important than the actual place brand strategy formulated.

4) Be aware that if you claim successes you’ll also own the failures. Be modest. Many organisations have been closed down because of external developments over which they had no influence.

5) Don’t forget to distinguish between key perception indicators (branding) and key performance indicators (marketing). It will make your organisation more transparent and less vulnerable.

Martin Boisen is also available as consultant. More about city branding, marketing and place management in our interview with Martin.

February 21, 2020

Huawei secures most 5G contracts around world

2020-02-22 China Daily Editor:Feng Shuang

Huawei Technologies Co has secured its position as the most sought-after 5G telecom equipment supplier, despite the US government's intensified push to contain the Chinese technology giant on the geopolitical, legal and technological front lines.

Among the 91 commercial 5G contracts Huawei has inked, the largest number by any telecom gear maker so far, more than half are from Europe, where Washington has spared no effort to dissuade its allies from using the company in their 5G systems.

Analysts said the steadily growing contracts show that Huawei has won the trust of more foreign telecom operators with its technological prowess, and Washington's groundless security accusations have failed to convince even some of its closest allies.

Ding Yun, president of Huawei's carrier business group, said at a launch event in London on Thursday that the company's 91 commercial 5G contracts is an increase of nearly 30 from last year. That is ahead of the 81 announced by Swedish telecom company Ericsson last week and well ahead of Nokia, which said it had secured 67 5G commercial deals as of Feb 10.

Ding said 47 of its 5G contracts are from Europe, 27 from Asia and 17 from other regions.

Huawei will invest $20 million in innovative 5G applications over the next five years, contributing to a thriving 5G ecosystem and accelerating the commercial success of 5G, officials said.

The UK announced on Jan 28 that it would allow Huawei in the noncore part of its 5G network, with a cap of 35 percent market share. A day later, the EU announced its toolbox for 5G deployment, which does not ban Huawei and leaves it up to the member countries to make their final decisions.

French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire confirmed that the government will not exclude Huawei. The same view was expressed by Swedish and Italian officials, though those countries also said there would be security reviews for vendors.

Bai Ming, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said more European countries are taking an unbiased approach toward Huawei because Washington has never provided factual evidence to support its security accusations.

"More people realized that mixing politics with normal business cooperation could only delay the global deployment of 5G," Bai said.

But analysts also warned that tougher headwinds are still ahead for the world's largest telecom equipment maker, given media reports that the US government is planning to further restrict US technology sales to Huawei.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Texas on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Huawei to challenge a 2018 congressional defense bill that stopped federal agencies from doing business with the company.

Wang Yanhui, secretary-general of the Mobile China Alliance, said a broader US ban on technology sales won't substantially harm Huawei's telecom business, as it has already shipped US-component-free 5G base stations around the world.

The Shenzhen-based company has also been scrambling to build its own mobile software ecosystem, the foundation for its ability to continue selling smartphones in overseas markets to mitigate the fallout from US restrictions.

"Challenges only make Huawei stronger," Wang said.

What We, the Taliban, Want

New York Times

I am convinced that the killing and the maiming must stop, the deputy leader of the Taliban writes.

Mr. Haqqani is the deputy leader of the Taliban.

A man waving an Afghan flag during an Independence Day celebration in Kabul in 2019.
Credit...Rafiq Maqbool/Associated Press

When our representatives started negotiating with the United States in 2018, our confidence that the talks would yield results was close to zero. We did not trust American intentions after 18 years of war and several previous attempts at negotiation that had proved futile.

Nevertheless, we decided to try once more. The long war has exacted a terrible cost from everyone. We thought it unwise to dismiss any potential opportunity for peace no matter how meager the prospects of its success. For more than four decades, precious Afghan lives have been lost every day. Everyone has lost somebody they loved. Everyone is tired of war. I am convinced that the killing and the maiming must stop.

We did not choose our war with the foreign coalition led by the United States. We were forced to defend ourselves. The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand. That we today stand at the threshold of a peace agreement with the United States is no small milestone.


Our negotiation team, led by my colleagues Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Sher Mohammed Abas Stanekzai, has worked tirelessly for the past 18 months with the American negotiators to make an agreement possible. We stuck with the talks despite recurring disquiet and upset within our ranks over the intensified bombing campaign against our villages by the United States and the flip-flopping and ever-moving goal posts of the American side.

ImageMullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, second from left, with members of a Taliban delegation in Russia in 2019.
Credit...Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

Even when President Trump called off the talks, we kept the door to peace open because we Afghans suffer the most from the continuation of the war. No peace agreement, following on the heels of such intensive talks, comes without mutual compromises. That we stuck with such turbulent talks with the enemy we have fought bitterly for two decades, even as death rained from the sky, testifies to our commitment to ending the hostilities and bringing peace to our country.

We are aware of the concerns and questions in and outside Afghanistan about the kind of government we would have after the foreign troops withdraw. My response to such concerns is that it will depend on a consensus among Afghans. We should not let our worries get in the way of a process of genuine discussion and deliberation free for the first time from foreign domination and interference.


It is important that no one front-loads this process with predetermined outcomes and preconditions. We are committed to working with other parties in a consultative manner of genuine respect to agree on a new, inclusive political system in which the voice of every Afghan is reflected and where no Afghan feels excluded.

I am confident that, liberated from foreign domination and interference, we together will find a way to build an Islamic system in which all Afghans have equal rights, where the rights of women that are granted by Islam — from the right to education to the right to work — are protected, and where merit is the basis for equal opportunity.

We are also aware of concerns about the potential of Afghanistan being used by disruptive groups to threaten regional and world security. But these concerns are inflated: Reports about foreign groups in Afghanistan are politically motivated exaggerations by the warmongering players on all sides of the war.

It is not in the interest of any Afghan to allow such groups to hijack our country and turn it into a battleground. We have already suffered enough from foreign interventions. We will take all measures in partnership with other Afghans to make sure the new Afghanistan is a bastion of stability and that nobody feels threatened on our soil.


We are conscious of the immense challenges ahead. Perhaps our biggest challenge is to ensure that various Afghan groups work hard and sincerely toward defining our common future. I am confident that it is possible. If we can reach an agreement with a foreign enemy, we must be able to resolve intra-Afghan disagreements through talks.

Another challenge will be keeping the international community interested and positively engaged during the transition to peace and after the withdrawal of foreign troops. The support of the international community will be crucial to stabilizing and developing Afghanistan.

We are ready to work on the basis of mutual respect with our international partners on long-term peace-building and reconstruction. After the United States withdraws its troops, it can play a constructive role in the postwar development and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

We acknowledge the importance of maintaining friendly relations with all countries and take their concerns seriously. Afghanistan cannot afford to live in isolation. The new Afghanistan will be a responsible member of the international community.


We will remain committed to all international conventions as long as they are compatible with Islamic principles. And we expect other countries to respect the sovereignty and stability of our country and consider it as a ground for cooperation rather than competition and conflict.

More immediately, there will be the challenge of putting into effect our agreement with the United States. A degree of trust has been built through our talks with the American negotiators in Doha, Qatar, but just as the United States does not trust us completely, we too are very far from fully trusting it.

We are about to sign an agreement with the United States and we are fully committed to carrying out its every single provision, in letter and spirit. Achieving the potential of the agreement, ensuring its success and earning lasting peace will depend on an equally scrupulous observance by the United States of each of its commitments. Only then can we have complete trust and lay the foundation for cooperation — or even a partnership — in the future.

My fellow Afghans will soon celebrate this historic agreement. Once it is entirely fulfilled, Afghans will see the departure of all foreign troops. As we arrive at this milestone, I believe it is not a distant dream that we will soon see the day when we will come together with all our Afghan brothers and sisters, start moving toward lasting peace and lay the foundation of a new Afghanistan.

We would then celebrate a new beginning that invites all our compatriots to return from their exile to our country — to our shared home where everybody would have the right to live with dignity, in peace.

Sirajuddin Haqqani is the deputy leader of the Taliban

Return of the Golden Bird?


Ancient India was famous around the world as the land of gold with the kingdoms of India having vast stores of the precious metal having acquired it mostly via trade. That said India had its gold Mines as well with the mines at Kolar & Hatti in Karnataka verified as being in operation from the Indus valley & Ashokan era. These gold mines have pretty much turned defunct now after millennia of mining and simply do not fulfil even the domestic needs OF India today. That said the mining of gold in India look to return to the center stage now with the discovery of 3350 tonnes of Gold reserves in the Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh.

Once properly exploited this mine will turn India into the World’s biggest gold miner leapfrogging China which has reserves of 2000 tonnes. In fact India today does not rank among the top fifteen Gold producing nations, Sonbhadra has the potential to take us to the very top. Gold is particularly important for India as we are the biggest importer of this precious metal & it has a very detrimental effect on our trade deficit. India imported gold worth 32.8$Bn in 2018-19 which was nearly a third of our net trade deficit of 103.46$Bn for the same year, the figure of 2019-20 is some 831 tonnes of gold imported at a cost of $31.5Bn. With the Sonbhadra mine becoming operational much of this outflow towards the import of gold can be stemmed. It is also worth noting that India re exports much of the gold it imports as jewelry, with this industry bringing in around $30.5Bn in exports in the 2018-19 period as well.

The Sonbhadra mine can logically be expected to help boost Indian Jewelry Exports while helping us curtail import of Gold so as to vastly increase the net amount of forex this industry brings to India. The Mine shall also provide an additional impetus towards development of the Electronics, computers & aerospace industry in India. This has obvious benefits for the fast growing mobile phone manufacturing & electronics industry centered on the City of Noida in Western Uttar Pradesh as well as for the upcoming defence industrial corridor in the state. The mine can be expected to give a significant boost to the economic growth of Uttar Pradesh & the Sonbhadra region by raking in revenues in billions of dollars for the state.

That said this is just one of a multitude of areas where the government has poured resources into in order to locate & exploit new resources of gold. The Hutti Mines near Bengaluru are all set to get a revamp as the government plans to expand the facilities there & increase gold production. It is worth noting that only 13% of the land area of India has been explored for Gold reserves. There exist tantalizing possibilities for massive yet untapped gold reserves like the Subarnarekha reserve (estimated at 7 million tonnes of ore). Gold mining in India suffered for a long time as rigid government policies coupled with the difficulty in prospecting for & mining this precious metal made mining Gold an unviable process. Recent changes in policy to allow private players access to these deposits for commercial mining may help India do away with Gold imports within the coming decade if handled correctly. However that’s something for the future.

Author – Sowmik Pyne

Twitter: @Aryanwarlord

February 18, 2020

Pseudo-Caliphate and India

Pseudo-Caliphate and India

Pseudo-Caliphate and India

By throwing his weight behind Islamabad on the Kashmir issue, Erdogan unambiguously signalled his intention to emerge as the imam of the new Caliphate he hopes to lead

Even if we overlook the facts about which nation is “occupying” Kashmir, by stating that there is “no difference between Gallipoli and occupied Kashmir”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unambiguously signalled his intention to emerge as the “imam” of the new (pseudo) Caliphate he hopes to lead by 2023, the centenary of the Turkish Republic. Addressing a joint session of Pakistan’s Parliament (February 14), he lauded sacrifices made by it in the war on terror and the “positive contributions” it made to the Afghanistan peace process and promised support during the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meet in Paris (February 16-21, 2020). His denunciation of US President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan hints at an eventual challenge to Riyadh in the region.

Erdogan’s determination to restore the Caliphate has created a visible schism between the Arab States formally led by Saudi Arabia and the non-Arab States led by Turkey. A nascent axis is discernible between Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan; Iran and Qatar complete the anti-Riyadh alignment. Erdogan declared in February 2018, “The Republic of Turkey is a continuation of the Ottoman Empire… the essence is the same, soul is the same…”

Unsurprisingly, Ankara has emerged as the new hub for anti-India activities by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Unknown to most people, Turkey has universal jurisdiction laws as part of its domestic laws. Article 13 of the Turkish Penal Code states, “Turkish law shall apply to” the crime of torture “committed in a foreign country whether or not committed by a citizen or non-citizen.”

Khalistanis tried to invoke these laws. Sikhs for Justice, a group working for a referendum (“Referendum 2020”) to create Khalistan, is believed to be funded by the ISI. In October 2018, its legal advisor, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, filed a case against Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh when he visited Turkey to pay homage at Gallipoli to soldiers from the First Patiala Infantry Regiment (now 15 Punjab), who lost their lives in World War I, on the centenary of the Great War.

Pannun went to Gallipoli to secure an arrest warrant and restrain the Punjab Chief Minister from leaving Turkey. As the Captain was on a non-official trip, he lacked diplomatic immunity as under the Vienna Protocol, only the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister are “protected persons” when abroad in personal capacity. In Pakistan, Erdogan lauded a 1915 rally in Lahore, led by Allama Iqbal, where people from present-day Pakistan supported the Turkish people and blatantly ignored the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers at Gallipoli (Battle of Çanakkale), possibly because the bells tolled for the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey’s domestic laws explain why ex-IAS officer Shah Faesal was going to Turkey on August 14, 2019, soon after the Centre abrogated Article 370 and divided the State of Jammu & Kashmir into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. It is possible that some foreign mentors asked Faesal to invoke these laws in Turkey. He was to file a case of human rights violations against Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the then Chief of Army Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and others, on behalf of his political party, Jammu & Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM).

Media reports stated that from Ankara, Faesal was likely to try to take the Kashmir issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, the Netherlands. But this would not take off for want of jurisdiction; no individual can file a case in the ICJ, only States can. Of course, his arrival in the Netherlands would be embarrassing for India.

But if Faesal really wanted to go to The Hague, he could have taken a direct flight to Amsterdam. His plan was to exploit Turkey’s Article 13 universal jurisdiction law. Some human rights NGO would receive him at Ankara, where he would be lionised as a civil service topper (2010) and Harvard alumni who quit a Government job to protest against the activities of the Indian State in Kashmir. Actually Faesal resigned from the service in January 2019 in order to enter politics. However, the sudden split of Jammu & Kashmir and freeze on political activity nixed his unborn political career, leaving NGO activism his only alternative.

Had he reached Ankara, the international media would have splashed Kashmir on the front pages of all important newspapers and magazines and the Indian media would follow suit, thus making Faesal the global face of the anti-India Islamic movement. Once he managed to file a case in Turkey, Islamabad would almost certainly have followed up by filing a case against India at the ICJ, where it has suffered reverses in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case.

However, Faesal’s mentors could not anticipate the lookout notices for Kashmiris trying to leave the country; he was caught at the airport, sent back to Srinagar and placed in preventive custody. He has now been booked under the Public Safety Act (February 15).

This argument can be corroborated from Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tweet on August 15, 2019, where he invoked Srebrenica, site of the 1995 genocide of over 8,000 Bosnians by the Bosnian Serb Army led by Ratko Mladic. Khan tweeted: “Will the world silently witness another Srebrenica-type massacre and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in IOK? I want to warn the international community if it allows this to happen, it will have severe repercussions and reactions in the Muslim world setting off radicalisation and cycles of violence.” The talk of “massacre and ethnic cleansing” of Kashmiri Muslims is, of course, pure bunkum but the tweet suggests an ISI hand in the aborted Turkish escapade.

Meanwhile, Erdogan has been cultivating separatist, religious and business leaders and Islamic groups in Kashmir after the tweaking of Article 370; this goes deeper than his traditional support to Pakistan at the Organisation of Islamic Conference. Previously also, he supported Pakistan in the FATF. While addressing the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2019, he chided the international community for not paying proper attention to Kashmir over the past seven decades.

Interestingly, soon after the FATF and UNGA meetings, the Indian Overseas Congress headed by Rahul Gandhi loyalist Sam Pitroda opened an office in Istanbul in November 2019. Possibly the Congress hopes to recover its once-committed Muslim vote bank by cultivating the emerging Caliphate; the repercussions on India’s internal affairs will need careful observation.

(The author is a senior journalist. Views expressed are personal)

Science, espionage and paranoia in US-China relations


Photo: AFP/Scott Olson/Getty Imagesby

A new book details an unusual FBI investigation into a theft of corn seeds, the US and China’s fight over industrial secrets and the cost of American paranoia.

A smartly dressed Chinese man was spotted in a field in rural Iowa, in the United States, in autumn 2011. This was enough to raise suspicion in a community that was 97% white and the local police went to check it out.

Thus began perhaps one of the stranger cases of industrial espionage in recent years, one that highlights the threat of industrial theft and the overblown atmosphere of fear and mistrust that exists between the United States and China over intellectual property and trade.

The field in question was planted with genetically modified seed lines developed by agricultural giant Monsanto, a company that guards its intellectual property – like hybrid seeds and fertilizer – with great secrecy, determination and, when necessary, aggressive lawsuits.

The Chinese man and his two companions – who circled back around in their car to pick him up – were questioned by police but let go with a warning. However, their details were taken down and later one of the names, Robert Mo, began cropping up in other incidents in rural communities across the Midwest.

Farms in Iowa using genetically modified seeds have been targets of commercial espionage by Chinese nationals.
Farms in Iowa using genetically modified seeds have been targets of commercial espionage by Chinese nationals. Photo: AP/Seth Wenig

This is the starting point of The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage, by journalist and Pulitzer Prize-shortlisted author Mara Hvistendahl. The book follows this one case through its many twists and turns, but also looks at the atmosphere of fear – sometimes justified, sometimes not – in the West over Chinese theft of industrial and scientific secrets.

The book delves into the history of the FBI monitoring ethnically Chinese scientists in the US going back to the 1960s. It also documents the impact on the lives of some of those accidentally caught up in this geopolitical tug of war.

Industrial espionage is as old as industry itself. However, with the rise of China as a superpower, increasing attention is again being paid to the issue on a nation-to-nation level. In many ways it echoes tensions between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

US President Donald Trump has accused China of orchestrating “the greatest theft in the history of the world,” while the value of intellectual property stolen each year by China is often put at $300 billion, though, as the book makes clear, this is largely based on rough estimates and anecdotal evidence. Intellectual property is one of the core issues at the heart of the ongoing trade war between China and the US.

As Hvistendahl points out, China’s central government has placed a high priority on strategic industrial break­throughs “no matter how they are achieved.” The US Chamber of Commerce labeled one Chinese state document on indigenous innovation “a blueprint for technology theft on a scale the world has never seen before.”

Agriculture is one of many areas in which China is seek­ing rapid advancement, given both the lucrative nature of the sector and the importance of food security. The need for China to increase yields to feed its massive population means that the pressure on those tasked with developing cutting-edge hybrid seeds for crops such as corn is consider­able, as is the temptation to cut corners.

In the early 2000s there were, by one count, 8,700 Chinese seed companies and “none of them had success­fully managed to create seed lines that rivaled those of the inter­national seed outfits,” Hvistendahl writes. As such, getting their hands on advanced genetically modified seeds to reverse engineer was a big advantage, albeit an illegal one. “Real research takes time. Theft is expedient – especially if there is little chance of getting caught,” she adds.

President Trump has accused China of stealing intellectual property from the US worth as much as $300 billion.
President Trump has accused China of stealing intellectual property from the US worth as much as $300 billion. Photo: Reuters/Erin Scott

Enter Mo, one of the men questioned that autumn day in 2011 and the principal character in the story. Born in Sichuan province, he moved to the US in the late 1990s after training in thermodynamics, but later joined his brothers-in-law’s agricultural business after failing to secure well-paying research work. His role was initially to source animal feed in the US, but soon he was tasked with helping the company’s seed-breeding program.

This mostly involved trying to get his hands on hybrid seeds produced by American companies, sometimes legally but often not. Mo and his colleagues would drive around rural areas collecting loose seeds from the ground soon after harvest time in fields they knew had been planted with genetically modified crops. At other times they would buy from seed suppliers, who were supposed to ensure that the seeds were used only for that year’s harvest. They would then be sent back to China for analysis.

The Scientist and the Spy makes it clear early on that Mo would be caught by the FBI, so we know how the story ends. However, the journey, filled with colorful characters and episodes that could be straight out of a spy novel, paints an illuminating and often disturbing picture of how the fight over industrial secrets plays out, a fight that increasingly involves both companies and governments.

In 1996, the US government signed into law the Economic Espionage Act, which made trade secret theft a federal crime. As such, attacks on American business are considered a national security threat and those caught can receive sentences of up to 10 years behind bars and a fine of $250,000, even if there is no clear government connec­tion with their actions. If a government link can be made, sentences can be up to 15 years and the fine twice as much.

Companies like Monsanto often hire former federal agents as part of their security operations.

‘The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage,’ by Mara Hvistendahl.
‘The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage,’ by Mara Hvistendahl. Photo: Handout

The Scientist and the Spy follows Mo’s case all the way through to its conclusion, documenting the massive operation that would eventually involve years of work and dozens of agents across five states. Agents placed listening devices in rental cars, intercepted phone calls and flew surveillance planes overhead to monitor the movement of the suspects, among many other operations.

However, the book doesn’t just focus on this one case. It also looks into the troubling history of Chinese scientists, students and researchers suspected of trying to steal US trade secrets.

Some were indeed found guilty – including Kexue Huang, who was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for stealing Dow pesticide secrets – but many simply came under the FBI’s watchful eye due to their ethnicity. 

In 2006, Wen Ho Lee, a Taiwanese-born scientist working in Los Alamos in New Mexico, was awarded a $1.6 million settlement, partly paid by The New York Times, after he was falsely accused of stealing secrets connected to the US nuclear arsenal and had his name leaked to the press.

One scholar found that about a fifth of cases brought up under the Economic Espionage Act between 1996 and 2015 that involved Chinese names were never proven, roughly twice the rate of defendants from other ethnic groups. Hvistendahl contends that the level of suspicion has meant that countless ethnically Chinese students have opted to pursue educational or career opportunities elsewhere in the world, rather than in the US.

China is seeking to rapidly improve crop yields, partly because of its need to ensure food security for the country’s 1.4 billion population.
China is seeking to rapidly improve crop yields, partly because of its need to ensure food security for the country’s 1.4 billion population. Photo: Xinhua/Xu Chang

The Scientist and the Spy is painstakingly researched, and relies heavily on extensive interviews with many of the principal characters on both sides of the law. It also looks into the effective monopoly that a handful of agricultural companies have on worldwide seed development, and the damage this is having on farmland and crop diversity, not to mention ecosystems.

Hvistendahl, who spent eight years reporting from China for Science magazine and was a 2012 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction for her book Unnatural Selection, brings her considerable experience to the subject.

When we think of industrial espionage we often think of state actors and large-scale operations. However, as The Scientist and the Spy makes clear, in many cases it is indivi­duals with their own personal dramas and motiva­tions attempting to access secrets. The book puts a human face to the issue of industrial espionage, and ultimately Mo comes across as a highly sympathetic character.

At a time when tensions between the US and China are high, The Scientist and the Spy offers an intriguing glimpse into how industrial espionage plays out, involving low-level players seemingly far removed from the centers of power.