Lines Of Fire

At the end of a day when more than 1,000 allied bombing missions had been carried out against Iraq and Kuwait, ABC’s Ted Koppel said, Since that Scud missile hit Tel Aviv earlier today, it has been a quiet night in the Middle East. A comparable deafness and blindness to the fate of nonwhites led the former personal secretary of Nancy Reagan to give airplanes and 2,4-D herbicide to Burma’s brutally repressive, totalitarian military regimesupposedly to wipe out opium fields. In fact, the gifts were also used against students and ethnic rebels of the National Democratic Front; food crops, cattle, people, and water supplies were sprayed in an effort to quell the civil war that has been raging in Burma for decades. The complexity of a situation in which one of the most prominent apparent rebels is an opium warlord commanding about 12,000 troops in his fight for the independence of the Shan state wasn’t lost on Brian Beker, the producer, director, and narrator of this fine hour-long documentary, filmed at great risk in 1989. The film also offers videotape coverage of the 1988 uprising, when around 15,000 civilians were slaughtered by government troops. As an introdution to some of the intricacies of a revolution in the largest country in Southeast Asia, with a population of 40 millionas well as some insight into what the noble intentions of the U.S. can entailthis is essential viewing (1990). (JR)

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