Plugging Burma’s Pipeline

Burma, the western flank of the Indochina peninsula that also includes Vietnam and Thailand, has long been a black hole in the global village. For decades the military dictator was a numerologist and xenophobe. Foreign corporations, foreign journalists, foreign anything were not welcomed. (The country still supplies half of the world’s heroin and opium.) In 1988, the military junta crushed a student pro-democracy movement, killing over 2,000 demonstrators, and renamed the country Myanmar. The junta, now called the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), invited foreigners to tap its natural wealth for the first time in 30 years. Thai loggers rushed into the teak forests, adding the deforestation that plagues the country. One large rainforest remains, however, because it’s the home of ethnic villagers whoe have been fighting the government for 40 years. But SLORC may conquer the region with a natural gas pipeline for the benefit of international oil companies.