A few folks have asked for my take on the recent attack in Nairobi. I was living there last year. More than one of this blog’s posts were written at Westgate’s Artcaffe. My interest in the politics and security of Kenya is more than passing. It seems weird that I’d have nothing to say here.
But I’ve stayed out of commentary for two reasons. First, my facebook feed is a testament to the personal impact the attack had. That impact was far larger on many of my friends than it was on me. I’m not tackling the issue directly because I don’t know how to pay proper respect, acknowledging tragic loss while avoiding the weird impulse that seems to compel people tangentially impacted by tragedy to publicly tie themselves to it. In short: I don’t know how to deal with death (does anyone?) and so I’d rather not attempt to do so in front of strangers on the internet. No offense.
Second, in the wake of any sudden event with geopolitical significance, there’s a massive amount of mistaken information followed by corrections and rumors followed by more rumors, all feeding into speculative analysis and interpretation. I’m particularly dumbfounded by the discussion of what the attack says about al-Shabaab: was this a desperate strike made by a weakened group near the end of its life, or a demonstration of growing tactical capacity and a portent of worse things to come? Lots of smart analysts disagree on this seemingly basic question. I’d rather not add to a fundamentally premature and incomplete conversation.
Maybe this will change at some point in the future. Until then, I just want to use this space to express my condolences and sorrow to all those impacted by this event. You are in my thoughts.