By Lizzie Phelan
May 15, 2012
The newly released documentary by Journeyman TV, Playground War – Libya, is an extremely important and heartbreaking insight into the realities of NATO’s war on Libya.
Shot in Sirte, the city that was obliterated during the last weeks of NATO’s bombing campaign, the interviewees who participated very bravely give an extremely honest account of the suffering being endured first and foremost by the primary victims of this aggression, Libya’s children.
It shows that the result of this war, like every war and intervention the west has been involved in, has been the division of people who previous to that intervention lived side by side as brothers and sisters, in peace and unity. In Syria, if western support for the insurgency continues, Libya and history shows that the result will be the same.
As a reporter that witnessed Libya transform from a prosperous, well developed country, that provided a good quality of life for its citizens – a fact that the children in this documentary allude to when they repeatedly remark that they wish life would return to how it was before the war – to a country destroyed beyond comprehension, to now being in Nicaragua, which went through a similar experience, the comments from one of the featured families that supported the western backed insurgency against the Jamahiriyah lead by Muammar Gaddafi, were particularly interesting. They remarked how the revolution that they had supported had delivered them no benefits, and that they too were suffering gravely from the war. In Nicaragua, many of the ordinary working class people that fought with the US backed “Contras”, against the FSLN government in the 1980s are now supporting and working with the FSLN government that was reelected in 2007. The reason for this is primarily that after having lived under 16 years of US backed neoliberal government during the 1990s and early 2000s, and like this Libyan family, far from receiving any benefits instead they suffered greatly, they have experienced first hand betrayal by the forces they once supported.
It is a profound tragedy to see a similar process playing out amongst the supporters of the NATO campaign in Libya, and Nicaragua provides many lessons in terms of reconciling a bitterly divided society as exists in Libya today.
This video shows how children who understand little of the politics of Libyan history and the war, are of course naturally inclined to support the positions of their parents. It is essential for their future, not that the past is glorified but that they all receive an honest education about Libya’s history, the history of imperialism, and the political reasons that lead to the west’s support for the devastation that they are now living through. Only with such an education can they critically understand their parents positions, what they are living through (e.g. why the NTC will not deliver funds to rebuild their lives, as the local NTC official states in this documentary) and make judgments about what is best for their and their own children’s future.
There is one highly erroneous claim in this documentary, and that is that the “revolution”/insurgency “succeeded” in Sirte. The reality is, and this is well documented in press coverage from the time, that the insurgency did not succeed in Sirte, and this is why it was obliterated to the extent the documentary shows. It was impossible for the insurgency to succeed in Sirte, and it only was able to crush the support of Gaddafi after the most powerful military force on earth ever known to man, NATO, attacked the city and Green Resistance ruthlessly for almost two months.
The bravery of the participants in this documentary in speaking out honestly about their suffering, at a time when the gun rules, should not be underestimated. Hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee the country and are languishing in makeshift detention centres inside Libya, where torture is routine, simply for their political positions being known.