In the first two decades of the 21st Century, it appears, there are increased waves of instability at all levels. Powerful countries, competing with each other or trying to reorganise others through proxies, manufacture instability while paying little attention to the likely ramifications of their actions.
Other conflicts are spontaneous and have domestic origins arising from poor governance.
The culture of the oppressed that Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire discussed explains these outbreaks of violence which hurt the already oppressed while protecting the elite.
It happens repeatedly in various African countries. In South Africa, oppressed blacks turn against each other on account of some bearing Zimbabwean, Nigerian or Kenyan identities. They do not turn on the opulent white establishments that continue to control the wealth.
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In Nigeria, distraught people attack South Africans over the South Africa xenophobic violence. In Kenya, manufactured crises use land as an excuse for the poor to kill their poor neighbours who own less than five acres and yet “protect” neighbours who own more than in 500 acres.
Two symbiotic revolutions, the Internet and terrorism, have helped to spread instability. The Internet has had the effect of de-bordering states, drastically reducing communication distances, and simultaneously creating new 'personal touch' distances, bringing people who live far apart close in the digital world.
The Internet has empowered and disempowered at the same time. Among those who have been empowered by the Internet are the purveyors of terrorism.
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The two revolutions (Internet and terror) appeared fresh at the turn of the century, removing the sense of innocence in international dealings. Osama bin Laden was initially an American ally in the anti-Soviet project in Afghanistan. They succeeded and then fell out. Their enmity eventually sucked in the rest of the world.
Osama, using the cyberspace as a tool in terror, then hit symbols of American power hard in East Africa and the United States, thereby changing the way people and countries did everything.
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Countries, such as Kenya and the United States, engaged in blame shifting as the sense of instability eroded confidence.
Osama became an excuse for manufactured instability, part of imperial agenda to force global conformity on those insisting on acting independently. This entailed master states engaging in “regime change” operations to enforce subservience.
In the process, countries that should command respect lost credibility because of “creating facts” to justify aggression on specified target states. George W Bush in Washington and Tony Blair in London tried to force other countries to join their invasion of Iraq and created the ongoing regional instability.
The two powers were partly responsible for the election-related mess between 2005 and 2008 in Kenya and the subsequent ICC fiasco. Kenya’s offence was that it had dared to act independently when the Anglo-Americans demanded conformity.
This effort to enforce conformity helped the Anglo-Americans to manufacture instability among the Arabs–“Arab Spring”. Within two months of taking office in 2009, US President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was plotting to destabilise some countries.
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She took credit for subsequent killing of Libya’s Muamur Qaddafi. While Obama regretted his role in destroying Libya without thinking of the likely consequences, Hilary loved it and said laughingly: “We came, we saw, he died.”
There seemingly was an attempt to replicate the “Arab Spring” in Kenya. This was through appointment of noisy Western “diplomats”, some with Arab Spring experience, to critical offices.
They wanted to prompt Kenyans to vote in a particular direction by warning them they risked losing unspecified “essential contacts” and suffering unknown “consequences”.
When Kenyans defied the advice, Somalia became a source of new trouble for Kenya. Western oil companies helped Somalia to subvert UN sanctions on weapons imports.
Some weapons landed in the hands of Al Shabaab to increase attacks on Kenyan interests. Somalia also went to a court in Europe to claim Kenyan waters. The plan is to intensify instability in the region.
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Western powers appear to condone Al Shabaab partly because it is good at harassing Kenya and is therefore a probable proxy in Eastern Africa.
Although Al Shabaab is an affiliate of Al Qaeda, the Anglo-Americans appear to protect it by refusing to have it listed as a UN terror group. With roughly 10 per cent of the supposed UN aid to Somalia going to the Al Shabaab, it is not surprising that influential forces at the UN would appear to pamper the terror group.
Prof Munene teaches History and International Relations at USIU