Pentagon Whistle-blower Under US Government Probe for Publishing op-eds at Global Times

By Wang Wenwen, Yu Jincui and Guo Yuandan

Jun 12, 2021 05:56 PM

Franz Gayl, a 64-year-old retired US Marine major who is now working at the Pentagon, is under a counterintelligence investigation by the Marine Corps for his two articles published in the Global Times that criticized the US policy toward the Taiwan Straits. 

In his first article, published on April 27, he argued that the US would lose a war with China over the island of Taiwan. He also suggested that the US advise Taiwan's secessionists to peaceably accept "one country, two systems" and cease its "independence" ambitions. The article was later translated and published in the Chinese version of the Global Times. 

Gayl further delivered his stance in another article a month later, in which he made it clear that "Attempting to support the renegade island of Taiwan's secession is directly contrary to the US national interest as we know in advance we will lose." 

He wrote this "as an American" whose priority is US national interest, he said in the article. And at the end of each article, he put a note saying that, "Opinions are of the author and do not represent the US government," 

But the Marine Corps and the Pentagon he works for view him as an unacceptable "whistle-blower." They have not only launched an investigation against Gayl, but also suspended his security clearances while seeking to determine whether he has been compromised. He faces an early exit from the civil service, according to a Washington Post article published on Friday (June 11). 

The fate of US military whistle-blowers is anticipated. In April last year, Captain Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt made a brave decision by sending an urgent letter to the US Navy to inform his superiors of the dire epidemic situation on board. However, the US Navy announced the firing of the captain, alleging that he sent a wrong signal about US weakness and would undermine sailors' confidence in the Navy.

Gayl had already felt his own fate. 

In the email exchanges with the Global Times editor he always contacted on June 3, Gayl expressed his regret that he can no longer publish articles on the Global Times. 

"My professional situation is not good because of my GT articles. I am assuming that my situation may appear in the news soon as well," he wrote, but did not speak to specifics. 

He stressed that he cares about all people - Chinese, Americans and all. "But my main love is for my fellow Marines," he wrote.

According to the Washington Post, on June 1, Gayl was summoned to the security office and stripped of his clearance. He was given a letter that said he was the subject of an investigation and hinted that the issue was his articles in the Global Times. 

On June 7, he informed the Global Times editor via email that he is resigning and retiring from his government job, "once the process is complete, I can perhaps write again," he said. 

The Global Times editor received his first email on April 20, in which he warned the danger the current US' Taiwan policy could bring and asked whether the Global Times was interested in publishing it. In the email, Gayl said, "Time seems to be running out for the U.S. to adopt common sense on the Taiwan issue." He also said he had previously sent the article to many US and Western media outlets but they either declined or never responded.

“I do not know why my opinions were not accepted. My sense of urgency is caused by the increasing tensions reported in US news media.  I am always concerned for my fellow Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and my country,” Gayl told the Global Times on Saturday, after the investigation was disclosed by the Washington Post. 

After his first article was published in the Global Times, he kept proposing pitches for the newspaper, as he hoped "this may have a very positive impact in turning the USA away from interference in PRC's island of Taiwan internal affair." 

Just before the June 3 email exchanges, Gayl pitched two ideas to the GT editor - one related to the dangers of the US' violent resistance to its decline when it's already foregone and a globally recognized conclusion and the other related to China-Russia cooperation ̶ both to be tied to the topic of Taiwan. 

But his regret letter came before the Global Times editor could reply to his new ideas.

He rejected GT's offer of remuneration for his two articles - the Global Times pays every author for their articles. Still, there are some who reject the payment - it's mostly those who believe it is their obligation to write. 

Washington's Taiwan policy

Gayl has many regrets. One of them is that he can no longer write for the Global Times, and another is an imminent war in the Taiwan Straits that he thinks will be a tragedy. To prevent such a war was his motivation for publishing articles in GT. 

"As I get old now and towards retirement, I want to do all I can to make the small contribution of helping prevent a terrible war," he said in a previous email to GT. 

"People have criticized me and have asked me why I side with PRC on the issue of Taiwan.  I simply tell them that the PRC is absolutely right on Taiwan, and always has been. History is my guide," he wrote.

In the two articles he wrote for GT, he expressed his stance clearly, which, however, contradicts Washington's bellicose policy and rhetoric on Taiwan. 

The investigation against Gayl has demonstrated the hysteria of the US on the China issue, Wei Zongyou, a professor at the Center for American Studies, Fudan University, told the Global Times on Saturday. 

"The US views China as a strategic competitor and the Pentagon even regards the country as an imaginary enemy," said Wei, adding that the US government doesn't want to see the reunification across the Taiwan Straits in hopes to still use Taiwan as a tool to check the Chinese mainland. 

"Any voices that oppose the US option of war will not be allowed within the US military," Wei remarked.

With China-US relations continuing to intensify under the Biden administration, the option of war has constantly been raised in the US policymaking and academic circles, as they hype China's military strength. 

In early April, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the US "maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force or any other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan."

Washington's top military officer in Asia-Pacific, Admiral Philip Davidson, said in March that the Chinese mainland could invade Taiwan within the next six years.

Within the US, there have been debates whether the US should change its long-term strategy of "strategic ambiguity" over Taiwan to "strategic clarity" ̶ making clear that the US will defend Taiwan if and when a war breaks out. 

China seeks to achieve peaceful reunification between the mainland and the island of Taiwan. But China does not renounce the use of force and reserves the option of taking all necessary measures to guard against external interference and secessionists in Taiwan.

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