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Between Pax Americana and Pax Africana

War and peace exist in Africa for reasons that are not always internal to Africa. Conflicts in other parts of the world often have huge repercussions across Africa. Four times as many Kenyans as Israelis died in November 2002 in the terrorist attack on the Paradise, an Israeli hotel in my hometown of Mombasa. Was this but another moment of blood-stained convergence between the politics of the Middle East and the politics of Islam in Africa?

Here we must distinguish between national and international terrorism. Much of the terrorism in Africa in the second half of the 20 th century targeted the colonial powers and the European minority regimes that were their legacy. Kenya, for example, won its independence partly in an anti-colonial war of liberation in which both the British colonial forces and the Mau Mau movement resorted to terrorism.

In retrospect, "national" terrorism in Africa was a form of warfare that must be judged within its political and moral context, and by its ultimate results. Kenya's Mau Mau war delivered independence in 1963; the Algerian revolution liberated that country in 1962; anti-colonial wars in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau destroyed the Portuguese empire in 1974; the anti-UDI struggle in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) ended white rule; and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa finally triumphed against the apartheid racial order.

Unlike anti-European guerilla war and anti-colonial terrorism in Africa, anti-American and anti-Zionist terrorism in the Middle East has led nowhere. Yet its brutality has often caught Africa in the crossfire.