Truth in Media Global Watch Bulletins

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TiM GW Bulletin 2000/10-10

Oct. 29, 2000

U.S. to Pull Out of NATO if Euro-Force Formed

Mending Ma Bell's Broken Heart

To Pray Or Not to Pray: That Is the Question; Anti-Americanism Spreads in Indonesia; Al “the Lockbox” Bore (Oops... Gore) vs. Bush League “Dubya” on Jim Lehrer Mews Hour

FROM PHOENIX, ARIZONAAMERICAN AFFAIRS


HEADLINES

Phoenix                  1. Mending Ma Bell’s Broken Heart

London                  2. U.S. to Pull Out of NATO if Euro-Force Formed

Jakarta                  3. Americans Beware: Anti-Americanism Spreads in Indonesia

Tennessee             4. To Pray Or Not to Pray: That Is the Question

Washington           5. Al “the Lockbox” Bore (Oops... Gore) vs. Bush League 

                                  “Dubya” on Jim Lehrer Mews Hour - F.Y.

Jakarta                 6. U.S. Ambassador Helps Rupture Indonesia RelationsOct. 31, 2000

Chicago                7. NATO, R.I.P. (by Dr. Srdja Trifkovic)Oct. 31, 2000

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1. Mending Ma Bell’s Broken Heart

Text Box:

PHOENIX, Oct. 26  Ma Bell has a broken heart for the second time in her 115-year history.  And the man who is in charge of it is trying to mend it.  By breaking it up.  To survive.

Of course, this is the recipe we recommended almost five years ago to another industrial era relic - the Big Blue.  And for much the same reasons.  But unlike AT&T’s Mike Armstrong, a former IBM executive, the Big Blue chairman and CEO, Lou Gerstner, IBM’s “Last Emperor” as he is likely to be remembered, chose to try to run his company (into the ground) in one piece.

What has been rumored for some time now, became a reality on Oct. 25, following an AT&T board meeting at which Armstrong’s proposed break-up plan was approved.  The company will split into four units, using the same rationale we deployed in January 1996.  When it comes to stockmarket valuations, the sum of the parts will be greater than the whole, the AT&T board figured.

By now, enough ink has been used in the world and national business media to describe the details of the AT&T break-up plan.  So we are not going to dwell on it very much (refer to the summary table).  The main purpose of this TiM Bulletin is to analyze the parallels between the situations AT&T and IBM find themselves in their respective markets today.  And then draw some hopefully fairly obvious conclusions as to what IBM should also be doing, but isn’t.

We will start that by applying to IBM some of the statements the Wall Street Journal made aboutText Box: AT&T Break-Up

1. AT&T Broadband
	Revenues (1999):	$5.77 billion
	Employees:		37,100
	Subscribers:		16.1 million
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2. AT&T Wireless
	Revenues (1999):	$7.62 billion
	Employees:		18,300
	Subscribers:		12.6 million
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3. AT&T Business Services
	Revenues (1999):	$25 billion
	Employees:		38,000
	Subscribers:		6 million
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4. AT&T Consumer Services
	Revenues (1999):	$21 billion
	Employees:		18,000
	Subscribers:		60 million
--------

Total Revenue (1999): $64.1 billion
AT&T in its Oct. 26 front page report headlined, “AT&T, Once a Corporate Icon, Finally Yields to a Humbler Role.”

  • First, the headline might as well have read “IBM, Once a Corporate Icon, Finally Yields to a Humbler Role.”

WSJ: “After more than a century of binding America together with sound waves and wire, AT&T Corp., once the country's biggest, wealthiest and strongest company, is itself unraveling.”

  • Ditto re. the above lead paragraph.  Just swap IBM Corp. for AT&T Corp.

WSJ: “Just a few decades ago, AT&T seemed like a paragon of corporate success and endurance… The company's millions of "widow and orphan" stockholders enjoyed a generous and dependable dividend. If ever there was a company that seemed primed for the future, AT&T was it.  But AT&T grew fat and complacent in the 1970s and 1980s while the telecommunications market was getting lean and hungry.”

  • Ditto, again.  Just change “telecommunications market,” to “PC market.”  Except that in IBM’s case, its luck ran out about a decade after AT&T’s first heart transplant (in 1983-1984). 

WSJ: “After a historic 1984 consent decree forced the company to spin off its local phone companies, AT&T struggled with an ambitious mission on a battlefield that kept changing: trying to serve all its customers' transmission needs, business or residential, voice or data, cable or wireless.”

  • In the mortal throws of the beleaguered John Akers administration, IBM also tried to break itself up in the hopes of surviving a competitive onslaught by smaller, nimbler competitors (see “Battleship IBM” Broken Up! - Annex Bulletin 91-60, Dec. 5, 1991 report).  But one of the first decrees issued by the new IBM emperor, Lou Gerstner, was to announce that he would not break up the company (see Annex Bulletin 93-45, Sep. 22, 1993).

WSJ: “AT&T's announcement Wednesday that it would split into four distinct units closed an era in the telecommunications war, as its oldest combatant conceded defeat on its latest attempt at being all things to all people. "One system, one policy, universal service" was the mantra coined by the legendary former chairman, Theodore Vail. Before Wednesday's humbling retreat AT&T's current chief, C. Michael Armstrong, spent more than $100 billion on cable systems in a vain effort to achieve the same goal in the era of broadband information networks. Now, AT&T is finally acknowledging that it can't pursue that goal anymore.”

  • Sadly, “one system, one policy, universal service” is still very much in vogue at IBM today, the anachronism of this mantra notwithstanding in the current business environment.  A further difference between AT&T and IBM is that while Armstrong had spent more than $100 billion trying to buy his way into new markets, Gerstner has squandered almost $40 billion trying to buy an illusion of prosperity by way of Wall Street stock recommendations.

WSJ: “The story of AT&T's 115-year rise and fall illustrates two simple lessons of American capitalism. The first is that no company, however large and prosperous, is safe from the convulsions of social, economic and technological change… The second lesson began to hit home after 1984. When Ma Bell lost its local service, it lost a vital connection to its customers, millions of employees and the marketplace. No longer was it Ma Bell, everyone's mother who took care of her children's needs.  And with that loss came a decline in the political clout the company had always taken for granted.”

        When the PCs, rather than “dumb terminals” connected to a mainframe took over the world, IBM also lost its vital connection to its customers.  So bad did the situation become, that the former IBM chairman Akers felt compelled to declare 1987, for example, “the year of the customer” (see Annex Bulletin 87-30, May 31, 1987). His goal, of course, was to remind the Big Blue’s self-centered bureaucrats what side their bread was buttered on.  It didn’t work.  All Akers accomplished was to draw attention to an IBM failure.  In fact, Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), which back then looked as if it could walk on water, used a chance to run an anti-IBM advertising campaign with the theme - “at DEC, every year is the year of the customer.  “Finally, a frustrated Akers lashed out at his top officers in a fierce attack in May 1991, which went down in IBM history as a “water cooler” incident (see Annex Bulletin 91-30, May 28, 1991).

WSJ: “In its youthful days, the company was a model of cutthroat aggressiveness. In 1902, Bell was competing with more than 1,500 independent telephone companies. But because it controlled all long-distance lines, Bell could limit competitors' growth simply by denying them connections to the national network.”

  • All of the above applies to the early IBM days, almost to a tee.  So aggressive was the IBM “founder,” Tom Watson Sr. back then, that in 1913, he and his boss at his former employer, John Patterson of NCR, were fined $5,000 each and sentenced to a year in jail for antitrust violations (see “Is Antitrust Dead?” - Mar. 7, 1989, Annex Bulletin 85-25, May 7, 1987, and “IBM: Colossus in Transition,” by Robert Sobel, 1981, page 13).

WSJ: “When the tide began to turn against the Bell monopoly in the 1960s and 1970s, the company was psychologically unprepared for the competition that was swarming into its industry. The company had begun to lose energy and put on weight. Its managers were experts at efficient operations, not futuristic visionaries, and the hierarchy was becoming as fixed as the steel and cement of an old plant. AT&T's cash cow, long-distance telephone service, demanded so much attention -- and paid so handsomely - that management had little appetite or incentive for innovation.”

  • Another observation that fits IBM to a tee. Just substitute mainframe in IBM’s case, for long distance in AT&T’s.  The only difference was that IBM mainframes and the associated software were a de facto monopoly, while AT&T was an actual, government-regulated monopoly.

WSJ: “As the 1980s loomed, demand for telecommunications was expanding too rapidly and becoming too complex to be served by the Bell System alone. People, especially in business, wanted more than voice transmission from their wires: They wanted to move and process data at high speed, too. With the development of electronic switching stations, microwave transmission and satellite communications, the technological justification for AT&T's monopoly disappeared.”

  • Bingo, again, as in IBM’s case!  It’s only that in the computer market, the PCs, Microsoft Windows and Unix servers sent the IBM mainframe business reeling the way all of the above innovations did AT&T’s monopoly in.  Finally, the Internet was the straw that broke the Big Blue mainframe camel’s back the second half of the 1990s.

WSJ: “The company [AT&T] has jumped with both feet into competition for other alliances, mergers and acquisitions…. AT&T has accumulated, mainly through acquisitions, a staggering $61 billion in debt, which costs the company more than $2 billion a year in interest. Long-distance telephone rates have been plummeting, and the company's lucrative but disorganized Business Services unit has been losing customers. The expected growth of "cable telephony" customers has fallen well below projections, and the company has failed to strike the deals it envisioned with other cable operators to augment its own system.

AT&T's penalty for these blunders: Its stock price is hovering around historic lows and the company has lost more than $70 billion in market valuation since January. The stock closed at $23.56 Wednesday (Oct. 25), down from a 52-week high of $61. "This is a sector of the economy that has been outpaced by technological change," says Phil Verveer, a partner at Wilkie, Farr & Gallagher in Washington, D.C., who was a member of the Department of Justice team that investigated AT&T in the 1970s. "The corporate culture of traditional companies like AT&T just couldn't adapt quickly enough".”

  • Amen to that! Count IBM in among such “traditional companies” that are having trouble adapting and growing again. 

WSJ: “Brian Adamik, an analyst with Yankee Group, said [about the four new AT&T units]… ‘these businesses have a tough road ahead.  The consumer unit is a dog, and business services and broadband are suspect. The only shining star here is wireless’.”

  • Translated into the IBM world, the PC and enterprise server units are dogs, and software and OEM are suspect.  The only shining star here is IBM Global Services.  And even it has lost some of its luster lately.

Summary

When we first issued our recommendation to break up IBM, we said: “And Now on to Next Phase for “Big Blue” Under Gerstner: How to Grow IBM?  Make It Smaller, Better” (see Break Up IBM! - Annex Bulletin 96-19, Mar. 20, 1996).  We argued that, “a blueprint for a $180 IBM stock (was) spinning-off and selling-off certain businesses, (which) could generate $43 billion of additional shareholder value.” 

At the time, IBM was stock was grossly undervalued, at about $23 per share (adjusted for subsequent splits), or just under $100 as actual 1996 share price.  If IBM management had followed through on our recommendation, IBM would have been a smaller company (about $46 billion in 1996 terms), but with nearly double the market value.

As it turned out, we were way too conservative.  Thanks to a bubble market of the late 1990s, even after a recent sell-off following IBM’s third quarter report (see Annex Bulletin 2000-23), the stock was still worth nearly four times as much as it was back in early 1996.  The price also soared due to more than $37 billion IBM had spent on stock buybacks, which induced Wall Street to ignore the company’s mediocre business results.

Text Box:  One reason for our break-up recommendation was the benefit of hindsight, relative to AT&T’s 1984 divestiture.  Advancing the clock now to the current time frame, the AT&T stock itself, valued at over $100 billion even at its present lows, has risen more than five-fold since 1984, the year the company was broken up by the trustbusters.

As to the so-called “baby Bells,” the local telephone companies, their market value has soared 12-fold during the same time frame. 

So relative to the value of the integrated Ma Bell system at the end of 1983 - $59 billion, the aggregate market capitalization of today’s Ma Bell and her “baby Bells” offspring has increased more than 10-fold  to about $624 billion.

The significance of all this was evidently lost on IBM leaders.  In August 1996, the IBM chairman, Lou Gerstner, called said our break-up proposal was “a dumb idea” (see “Louis XIX of Armonk, Annex Bulletin 96-42, Aug. 23, 1996).

Wonder what he is thinking now that even the staid, old Ma Bell has seen the light?  Early retirement may not be a bad topic. 

As the Wall Street Journal reported in its today’s edition, the Fortune/Forbes 500 CEOs are starting to “depart faster than ever as boards, investors lose patience.”  Thirty-eight of the nation’s 200 largest public companies have replaced their CEOs in the first nine months of this year, up from 23 in all of 1999.

Should the IBM directors ever do what they are paid for - serve the IBM shareholders’ interests, not just those of the CEO - stand by for the greatest cheer among the IBM employees and investors since the closing ceremonies at the Olympics.

TiM Ed.: Also check out - “Is Antitrust Dead?” - Mar. 7, 1989 - check for a historical perspective on how IBM manipulated the Justice Department into submission after a 13 years of litigation that spanned five U.S. presidents.

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2. U.S. to Pull Out of NATO if Euro-Force Formed

LONDON, Oct. 29 - In the only controversial foreign policy position between the two establishment party presidential candidates, George W. Bush has already said that if he became president, he would pull the U.S. troops from the Balkans (echoing, by the way, Pat Buchanan’s pledge from way back, during NATO’s bombing of Serbia).

But today (Oct. 29), the London Daily Telegraph said that Washington (read the Pentagon) is ready to reduce its forces in Europe to a token presence if Paris gets its way in forging a new European military alliance at next month's European Union summit in Nice.  Here’s an excerpt from that story:

“The new alliance, which has been in the pipeline for some time, is in theory supposed to complement NATO. It is being seen across the Atlantic, however, as a move to undermine NATO and marginalize the United States’ role in European security.

The 15-member military alliance, a Franco-German brainchild, is designed to take over from the Western European Union as the first EU-commanded force, drawing substantially on European manpower, equipment, intelligence and command and control systems already allocated to NATO.  The move could spell the end of NATO as anything but a talking shop,” according to defense experts in Britain and the U.S.

Officially, members of the Clinton administration have welcomed European initiatives "to share more of the burden" in security and peacekeeping. In the Pentagon, however, officials see the new EU alliance as a move against NATO. According to planners in NATO, the US could cut its forces in Europe to about 10,000 from existing levels of up to 150,000.

The new EU military partnership is thought by some observers to spell the end of NATO as an effective alliance. A NATO insider said: "The Americans were going to pull out anyway over the next 10 years. This will accelerate the process. They could be out in all but a token presence by 2003."

The French would like the new EU alliance to be enshrined in a treaty at Nice… The senior civilian figure is to be the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, currently Javier Solana, the former Nato secretary-general... He is believed to be working with the French, who have laid claim to leading posts in the structure.

The Telegraph has learnt from defense experts that both Tony Blair and his military staff have given way to the French demand for this post.  Blair is reported to be keen to "go along with the initiative" of forging the alliance, as he believes that much of the idea was his in the first place - particularly for a 60,000-strong European rapid reaction force. The plans for such a force were agreed at the EU Helsinki summit last year.”

To read the rest of the Telegraph story, click here.

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3. Americans Beware: Anti-Americanism Spreads in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Oct. 29 - A group of Muslim hardliners launched a sweep through hotels in an Indonesian city on Sunday, searching out American citizens to be evicted from the country, hotel workers said, according to an Oct. 29 UPI news wire report.  

The hotel raids were a part of rising anti-American sentiment in the world's most populous Muslim nation.  Indonesian anti-Americanism has been triggered by Washington's sympathies for Israel in the recent flare up of violence in the Middle East.

More than 100 youths from four Islamic organizations searched through star-rated hotels in Indonesia's central Java city of Solo, some 300 miles southeast of Jakarta, looking for U.S. citizens.

The groups issued a general ultimatum warning U.S. citizens to leave the city or the country within 48-hours. They also urged all hotel operators and guest houses in the city to reject any American citizen. They added that a once a week sweep of Americans would be launched through hotels across the town.

"We have issued an ultimatum to all hotel operators and guest houses to refuse any American citizen. We will launch a search through the hotels once a week. If later we find any U.S. citizen, we would take more stern action," said one of the groups' leaders identified as Kalono who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name.

Kalono said Sunday's sweep to find Americans was just a warning. "This is still yet a real action. But if they (the Americans) remain to be stubborn, we will destroy all U.S. facilities and interests across Solo," he said.

A receptionist at Novotel Hotel in downtown Solo confirmed receiving a similar warning from the same Muslim groups, saying that protesters were demanding a list of hotel guests. There are no immediate reports whether the groups found any American citizen during the sweeps.

For the rest of this UPI story, click here.

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4. To Pray Or Not to Pray: That Is the Question

PHOENIX, Oct. 29 - We received the following story from Judith Meyer, a TiM reader from Colorado.  We’ve been assured that sadly, it is a true story:

“KINGSTON, Tennessee, Sep. 1 - What follows is a statement that was read over the PA system at the football game at Roane County High School, Kingston, Tennessee, by the school Principal, Jody McLoud, on September 1, 2000. I thought it was worth sharing with the world, and hope you will forward it to all your friends. It clearly shows just how far this country has gone in the wrong direction:

"It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games to say a prayer and play the National Anthem to honor God and Country. Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a violation of Federal Case Law.

As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it an alternate life style  And if someone is offended, that's okay.

I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing condoms and calling it safe sex. If someone is offended, that's okay.

I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a viable means of birth control. If someone is offended, no problem.

I can designate a school day as earth day and involve students in activities to religiously worship and praise the goddess, Mother Earth, and call it ecology.

I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depict people with strong, traditional, Christian convictions as simple minded and ignorant and call it enlightenment.

However, if anyone uses this facility to honor God and ask Him to bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, Federal Case Law is violated. This appears to be inconsistent at best, and at worst, diabolical. Apparently we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone except God and His Commandments.

Nevertheless, as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules which they do not necessarily agree. For me to do otherwise would be inconsistent at best, and at worst, hypocritical. I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression.

For this reason, I shall, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" and refrain from praying at this time. However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank God and ask Him in the Name of Jesus to bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against the law.  Yet.”

One by one, the people in the stands bowed their heads, held hands with each another, and began to pray. They prayed in the stands. They prayed in the team huddles. They prayed at the concession stand, and they prayed in the announcer's box. The only place they didn't pray was in the Supreme Court of the United States of America, the seat of "justice" in the one nation under God." 

Somehow, Kingston, Tennessee, remembered what so many have forgotten. We are given the Freedom of Religion, not the Freedom from Religion.”

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TiM Ed.: And just think, this quiet rebellion against another legal assault on Christians in America took place in Al Gore’s backyard, or at least the state which he called home when he was a U.S. Senator.

For additional TiM articles on the topic of “Freedom from Religion” in America, as our reader put it, which the godless New World Order is trying to impose on U.S. citizens, check out…DANCING 'ROUND THE GOLDEN CALF, CHRISTIANITY UNDER SIEGE, TOWARD A ONE WORLD RELIGION, "Silence over plight of persecuted Christians" (WT column, 12/27/98).

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5. Al “the Lockbox” Bore (Oops.. Gore) vs. Bush League “Dubya” on Jim Lehrer Mews Hour - F.Y.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 - We received the following tongue-in-cheek rendition of the last Gore-Bush debate, moderated by PBS’ new anchor Jim Lehrer, from Frank and Judith Meyer of Colorado (original author unknown), with just a slight embellishment by TiM:   J

Jim Lehrer: Welcome to the second presidential debate between Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush. The candidates have agreed on these rules: I will ask a question. The candidate will ignore the question and deliver rehearsed remarks designed to appeal to undecided women voters. The opponent will then have one minute to respond by trying to frighten senior citizens into voting for him. When a speaker's time has expired, I will whimper softly while he continues to spew incomprehensible statistics for three more minutes.

Let's start with the Vice President. Mr. Gore, can you give us the name of a downtrodden citizen and then tell us his or her story in a way that strains the bounds of common sense?

Gore: As I was saying to Tipper last night, after we tenderly made love the way we have so often during the 30 years of our rock-solid marriage, the downtrodden have a clear choice in this election. My opponent wants to cut taxes for the richest one percent of Americans. I, on the other hand, want to put the richest one percent in an iron clad lockbox, so they can't hurt old people like Roberta Frampinhamper, who is here tonight. Mrs. Frampinhamper has been selling her internal organs, one by one, to pay for gasoline, so that she can travel to these debates and personify her problems for me. Also, her poodle has arthritis. 

Lehrer: Gov. Bush, your rebuttal.

Bush: Governors are on the front lines every day, hugging people, crying with them, relieving suffering anywhere a photo opportunity exists. (TiM Ed.: Except in a death chamber?  Not many votes to be collected there… especially not in a state [Texas] with the highest number of executions in the nation). I want to empower those crying people to make their own decisions, unlike my opponent, whose mother is not Barbara Bush.

Lehrer: Let's turn to foreign affairs. Gov. Bush, if Slobodan Milosevic were to launch a bid to return to power in Yugoslavia, would you be able to pronounce his name?

Bush: The current administration had eight years to deal with that guy and didn't get it done. If I'm elected, the first thing I would do about that guy is have Dick Cheney confer with our allies. And then Dick would present me several options for dealing with that guy. And then Dick would tell me which one to choose. [TiM Ed.: And I am not talking about segregated toilets in Kosovo].

You know, as governor of Texas, I have had to make tough foreign policy decisions every day about how we're going to deal with New Mexico.

Lehrer: Mr. Gore, your rebuttal.

Gore: Foreign policy is something I've always been keenly interested in. I served my country in Vietnam. I had an uncle who was a victim of poison gas in World War I. I myself lost a leg in the Franco-Prussian War. And when that war was over, I came home and tenderly made love to Tipper in away that any undecided woman voter would find romantic. If I'm entrusted with the office of president, I pledge to deal knowledgeably with any threat, foreign or domestic, by putting it in an iron clad lockbox. Because the American people deserve a president who can comfort them with simple metaphors.

Lehrer: Vice President Gore, how would you reform the Social Security system?

Gore: It's a vital issue, Jim. That's why Joe Lieberman and I have proposed changing the laws of mathematics to allow us to give $50,000 to every senior citizen without having it cost the federal treasury a single penny until the year 2250. In addition, my budget commits $60 trillion over the next 10 years to guarantee that all senior citizens can have drugs delivered free to their homes every Monday by a federal employee who will also help them with the child-proof cap.

Lehrer: Gov. Bush?

Bush: That's fuzzy math. I know, because as governor of Texas, I have to do math every day. I have to add up the numbers and decide whether I'm going to fill potholes out on Rt. 36 east of Abilene or commit funds to reroof the sheep barn at the Texas state fairgrounds.

 Lehrer: It's time for closing statements.

Gore: I'm my own man. I may not be the most exciting politician, but I will fight for the working families of America, in addition to turning the White House into a lusty pit of marital love for Tipper and me.

Bush: It's time to put aside the partisanship of the past by electing no one but Republicans.

Lehrer: Good night.

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TiM Ed.: Just in case you haven’t had enough of goofy mews reports, check out the “Billionaires-for-Bush-or-Gore” web site.

You may find particularly illuminating a table of “66 billionaires” (read large multinationals) that have each contributed at least $50,000 to BOTH Bush and Gore - http://www.billionairesforbushorgore.com/analysis/.  The list runs under an appropriate heading “Price/Performance.” 

The BushGore composite image is also a blast (http://www.billionairesforbushorgore.com).  The only thing missing is a lockbox with some Bore, oops… Gore, family goldilocks inside.  Courtesy of the (New York) Schiff banking family, of course, Gore’s in-laws and goldsmiths.

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Robert Gelbard’s Brash Attitude Is Putting American Lives in Danger

6. U.S. Ambassador Helps Rupture Indonesia RelationsOct. 31, 2000

Some Indonesia Lawmakers Are Demanding Gelbard’s Recall

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Oct. 29 - Relations between the United States and Indonesia have deteriorated rapidly after a series of high-profile disputes between the American ambassador here and Indonesian officials and lawmakers, who have accused the United States of meddling, the New York Times has reported today (Oct. 30).  The ambassador, Robert Gelbard, who had done his share of meddling in Bosnia and Kosovo on behalf of the Clinton administration, is reportedly under heavy guard after death threats and calls by Indonesian lawmakers for his removal. 

Once he got to Jakarta just over a year ago, the Ambassador Gelbard kept arrogantly shooting his mouth off, provoking and outraging even the most placid among the Indonesian politicians. 

No surprise there.  Gelbard’s combativeness had earned him a nickname “Diplomatic Doberman” well before he landed in Indonesia (see S99-136, "Peace" 30 - Special TiM GW Bulletins - Aug. 12, 1999).  And like another State Department bully who had left a trail of disenchantment wherever he served (Richard Holbrooke), including in Indonesia in the 1970s (see “Criminals Always Return to Crime Scene”), Gelbard apparently also wears a monumental ego.

In our latest Bulletin on the Balkan affairs (see Item 6 in TiM 2000/10-9), we cited the following incident: “When Holbrooke and another State Department diplomat landed in Bosnia in 1997, enroute to Belgrade, one of the staffers wired back a terse message:  ‘The egos have landed’.”

You only get one guess as to who “another State Department diplomat” was.  Yes, none other than the “Diplomatic Doberman” whose barking is now putting American lives at risk in Indonesia.

Here are some excerpts from the Times story:

“Gelbard's brash manner has clashed sharply with the typically calm, non-confrontational style politics practiced by the Javanese, who dominate the higher ranks of the Indonesian government and Parliament. Several officials and legislators have accused Gelbard of interfering in Indonesia's domestic affairs, including trying to influence cabinet-level and senior military appointments.

Some lawmakers have demanded that Gelbard be recalled. Others have threatened to declare to him persona non grata."

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TiM Ed.: As a result of all this tumult, Gelbard is now putting American lives in danger.  As you saw in TiM’s Oct. 29 story, protests and threats against American citizens, companies and facilities are on the rise in this country.  American mining, energy, and apparel companies have huge investments in Indonesia. The U.S. embassy estimates that about 8,000 Americans are living in Indonesia.  Now the State Department has advised Americans in Indonesia to keep a low profile, saying unrest and violence could erupt with little warning.

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"Fearing what it called a "credible threat of attack," the United States Embassy in Jakarta has closed its doors to the public for the foreseeable future.  The United States Embassy said in a statement today that its consular and visa services, which were hastily closed last week, would not reopen as scheduled on Monday (Oct. 30) because of a continuing threat of attack, though it declined to give specifics.

In recent weeks, the embassy has been the scene of angry and sometimes violent protests, fueled not only by the diplomatic discord but also by growing sentiment in Indonesia, a predominately Muslim country, that the United States has favored Israel over the Palestinians in the recent Middle East violence.

A spokesman for Gelbard said that he was not available to be interviewed for this article.”

For the rest of the Times article, check out http://www.nytimes.com/2000/10/30/world/30INDO.html.

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TiM Ed.: Gelbard was nominated by Bill Clinton to be Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia on June 18, 1999 and confirmed by the Senate for that position on August 3, 1999. He arrived in Jakarta on October 4, and presented his credentials to the former Indonesian president Habibie on October 18, 1999.

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7. NATO, R.I.P. (by Dr. Srdja Trifkovic)Oct. 31, 2000

CHICAGO, Oct. 31 - Further to our own news story in this TiM Bulletin on a possible disintegration of NATO (see Item 2 of this TiM Bulletin), we received today a comment on the same topic from Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, foreign affairs editor for the Chronicles magazine and the Rockford Institute, both of Chicago.  Here are some excerpts:

“[…]But by last spring there were clear signs in Europe that further eastward expansion of NATO will be resisted on both practical and political grounds. The three former Soviet Pact armies turned out to be not only poorly equipped but also almost impossible to integrate into NATO's command and control structure. "Inter-operability" - the bedrock of the existing NATO military doctrine - could not be applied to the three new members, partly because there developed increasing opposition in those countries to further massive spending on American weaponry in the absence of any credible threat.

In addition many Europeans were loath to antagonize Russia in the early months of Putin's tenure. The Russians naturally saw NATO enlargement as a threat, and this impression was confirmed by the subsequent attack on Serbia. Further enlargement would be an open challenge that Putin could not afford to ignore or meekly accept like his bungling predecessor. While there are inveterate Russophobes in Washington smarting for a showdown, their enthusiasm was not shared by those most at risk if we return to a new cold war.

The most significant impetus to European doubts about NATO and the resulting drive for an independent defense structure came from Washington's apparent success in imposing its will during the bombing of Serbia. During those 78 days in the spring of 1999 it became obvious that the decision-making within NATO was more centralized than it ever was during the Cold War.

NATO should have been abolished after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Its preservation and subsequent enlargement had a deeply destabilizing effect on Europe and on the nature of America's long-term relationship with Russia. George Kennan rightly called it "the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era." Its quest for new missions has turned into an aggressive tool of interventionist hegemony, as witnessed in the Balkans last year. It is an organization tainted by criminality. It existence is devoid of any strategic logic, military necessity, or ideological merit…”

To read the rest of the Trifkovic editorial comment, check out...  http://www.rockfordinstitute.org/NewsST103100.htm.

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Also, check out... Djurdjevic's WASHINGTON TIMES columns:  "Christianity Under Siege," "Silence Over Persecuted Christians", "Chinese Dragon Wagging Macedonian Tail,"  "An Ugly Double Standard in Kosovo Conflict?", "NATO's Bullyboys", "Kosovo: Why Are We Involved?", and "Ginning Up Another Crisis"

Or Djurdjevic's NEW DAWN magazine columns: "Anti-Christian Crusades," "Blood for Oil, Drugs for Arms", "Washington's Crisis Factory,"  and "New Iron Curtain Over Europe"