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Burmese drug power play?

Editor’s note: Earlier this month, WND’s roving international
reporter Anthony LoBaido filed a remarkable report from Southeast Asia
on child soldiers in Burma. Picked up by CBN as part of a live report
featuring LoBaido, “12-year-old twins lead jungle army”
and its backgrounder article, “The land of child warriors,”
unveiled the strange forces at work that have led to the existence of
the armed guerilla movement populated by children.

In this new report, LoBaido reveals that secret meetings held
recently in Seoul, South Korea, cement as a fait accompli the imminent
end of the ruling military junta in Burma. In its place, says LoBaido,
looms a showdown for Burma’s multi-billion dollar drug crops and her
natural resources — between the West and communist China.

By Anthony C. LoBaido

© 2000, WorldNetDaily.com, Inc.

KO PI PI, Thailand — In perhaps the epitome of “smoke-filled rooms,”
a secretive meeting took place recently in Seoul, South Korea,
concerning the future of Burma, also known as Myanmar.

Present at the meeting were representatives of Australia, Canada,
Japan, France, the UK and the United Nations, as well as members of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN — namely Thailand,
Malaysia and the Philippines — all ostensibly there to help Burma. But
what kind of “help”?

Near Ko Pi Pi island in southern Thailand, the building of the
Kra Canal required extensive dredging in the ocean, as depicted in this
scene of pipes billowing out sand.

Outside, in the real Burma, WorldNetDaily found the casualties of a
strange war. In a nation racked by civil conflict, the Karen rebels
have been hit particularly hard.

For the perhaps 4,000 members left in the Karen National Union, a
Christian faction opposing the ruling military junta, those who are not
shot on sight by the junta are sent to work as slave labor on
development projects the junta deems vital. One Karen leader told
WorldNetDaily he felt the “Karen had been betrayed like other allies of
Great Britain and America, such as the Kurds, Rhodesians and

“We and other groups fought and bled and died for the UK and U.S., in
every war from World War I to World War II, to Korea, Vietnam,
Afghanistan, and even the Gulf War. Yet we were all betrayed when the
going got really rough,” said the Karen leader, who has since been
killed by the junta’s genocide campaign.

12-year-old twin leaders of the Karen rebel group “God’s Army,”
Johnny and Luthor Htoo.

Some say the Burmese junta might be benefiting by the West’s and ASEAN’s
lack of a unified approach to installing democracy or “polyarchy” into
Rangoon. (“Polyarchy” meaning the promotion of two foreign-funded
political parties, supposedly competing for rule, yet each ultimately
subservient to Western governmental and corporate interests.)

Certainly the junta is playing its China card to the hilt.

“Both the West and ASEAN covet Burma’s drug money, and fear Communist
China moving in,” says Sister Regina de los Santos, a Catholic nun who
works closely with the Karen.

“Burma has suddenly become very important to the United States. I’m
no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but if you look at a map of
the world between Thailand and Israel, the U.S. has exactly zero

This might shed some light on President Clinton’s recent visit to

“During the Cold War, it was the U.S., Pakistan, and to a small
degree China, against Russia and India. Now it’s China, Russia, Pakistan
and Burma against America,” added Sister Regina, who holds Masters
degrees in both geography and history.

“But if you ask me, in the end, the whole Burma power play, as you
call it, boils down to one real thing — drugs.”

China not invited to the party

Formed in the 1960s as an anti-communist alliance, today ASEAN is
home to Stalinist and Marxist states like Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
Burma joined ASEAN in 1997, much to the chagrin of the European Union.
ASEAN and the EU have been at odds ever since.

Why should this Who’s Who of the international elite be meeting to
discuss the fate of Burma — for all intents and purposes still a
sovereign nation? And why wasn’t China, the region’s major power,

The answers to these questions are surprising.

The Seoul meeting was the sequel to an October 1998 meeting held in
Chilston, England, at which meeting Great Britain, as the former
colonial ruler of Burma, hosted an event seeking to lure Burma and its
junta out of isolation.

Using the carrot and stick approach which offered assistance in
exchange for reform, the United Nations offered Burma, via the World
Bank, $1 billion to hand over the keys to the country.

But since Burma counts its drug profits from opium in the tens of
billions of dollars, it came as no real surprise that the junta said no

One Burmese general told WorldNetDaily the offer was “an attempt by
the West, under the guise of the U.N., to buy off our regime like a
common whore.”

In like manner, the Burmese junta’s reaction to the Seoul meeting was
less than enthusiastic.

“The Myanmar government is unhappy and unappreciative of the holding
of the meeting,” said the junta in a formal statement.

“The Seoul meeting is nothing more than a scheme hatched by Western
countries to give pressure on Myanmar. They’ve done so in the belief
that this will result in the collapse of the economy and that Myanmar
will be forced to follow their lead,” said junta Lt. General Khin Nyunt.

Khin Nyunt is the first secretary of the state peace and development
council — the official real world name chosen by the Burmese junta.

One prominent Thai official who attended the meeting told the Thai
media, “There was no tough criticism of the Burmese regime, as initially
feared.” Participants at the meeting, led by Japan and South Korea,
stated instead that the “international community” should help Burma
develop its human resources and reform its economy.

Linking products from Vietnam through Burma is an important
goal of the “East-West” corridor proposed by Japan.

Reality Check: It is well known that Japan covets the rice, oil, lumber,
jade and drug profits of Burma as a natural-resource colony, similar to
Japan’s “relationship” with Peru. Like South Korea and ASEAN at large,
Japan supports “constructive engagement” with Burma, while the West, led
by the U.S., is still pressuring Burma with sanctions.

However, the U.S., through the International Monetary Fund and World
Bank, has approached the Nobel Prize-winning leader of the anti-junta
National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, in a direct effort to
get her approval to begin resurrecting the Burmese civil service for her
eventual assent to power, a la Nelson Mandela, when she emerges from
house arrest.

What’s it all about? In a word, China.

Both the West and ASEAN fear that China, the leading exporter of arms
to the junta, and a major importer of Burmese rice, jade and above all,
heroin (to be resold to the West), will make a move to take over a
weakened Burma if and when the situation should present itself.

A young boy rides an ox in Laos. How will economic development,
factories and pollution affect the hill tribes of the region?

Burma is vulnerable. A fractured nation, it has forsaken its vast
natural resource treasure chest of rice, teak wood, jade and oil and
replaced it with a destructive drug economy that has unleashed genocide,
AIDS, and moral and social decline on its citizenry. The universities
have been closed for over 10 years, leaving but a scattered few
professionals in the fields of health, science, economics, agriculture
and educational fields.

Just say ‘Yes’

According to the U.S. State Department’s 1999 International
Narcotics Control Strategy Report on the Asia-Pacific Region, the drug
situation in the Golden Triangle — which includes Burma, Thailand,
Southern China, Laos, and to a lesser extent Cambodia and Vietnam — is
as lucrative and dicey as ever.

Burma, according to the report, is one of the world’s top producers
of heroin and opium, second only to Afghanistan. Indeed, Burma accounts
for 80 percent of the total production of ASEAN heroin. The United Wa
State Army in northeast Burma, says the State Department, is the
largest, richest and best-armed private drug army on earth.

China, which provides the principal route for Burmese heroin to reach
the West (about 60 percent of the Burmese harvest each year), has
enacted a harsh zero tolerance for heroin inside its own borders. That,
however, doesn’t keep it from exporting heroin to the West and, to a
lesser extent, Australia and New Zealand.

Like any good sugar daddy, China also gives North Korea a good deal
of heroin for overseas sale. China is anti-West, and has a political and
military web with which to market the drugs overseas.

Not to be overlooked is China’s production of the ingredients to make
Ya Baa,
or “Crazy medicine” — the amphetamine taken orally by Thais to help
them work harder and longer during the boom years of the 1980s. Today,
Thais smoke it en masse for a stronger high, an escape many feel they
need since the total economic and moral collapse their nation suffered
in the 1997 Asian economic meltdown.

In addition to being a major importer of Ya Baa, Thailand has had a
modern highway and telecommunications infrastructure — a “bonus” of its
quasi-colonial status of the U.S. and UK — since before World War II
and throughout the Cold War. These not-so-small perks enable drug
dealers to peddle their wares between China, Burma and IndoChina (now
known as the Greater Mekong Sub-region) with great efficiency.

Thailand was once a major producer of opium as well, though today it
is specializing in the highly profitable Ya Baa.

Laos, for its part, features a hard-line Stalinist regime,
and ranks, according to a U.S. State Department Report, as the world’s
third leading producer of opium. In 1999, Laos produced 140 tons of
opium, used to make heroin.

Hydroelectric power plants are a big part of development of the
Greater Mekong Subregion. This plant is near Luang Prabang, Laos.

While the State Department believes the development of transportation
infrastructure in the Greater Mekong Sub-region will help narcotics
suppression efforts, the truth is, according to one Thai police
official, “Better roads will only mean more profits and successful
deliveries for the drug dealers.”

So while ASEAN, the West and the U.N. struggle to find a way to bring
Burma out of the corner she has been painted herself into, behind the
scenes, billions in drug profits await their new master.

Will it be communist China, the hill tribes of Burma, or some new
Greater Mekong consortium that take over the billions of dollars in drug

Stay tuned for more revelations from the smoked-filled rooms of
Asia’s powerbrokers.