NAIROBI, Kenya -- By now, Americans are inured to seeing war portrayed as televised theater, replete with accompanying cable news theme music, television banners and the like.
Not so for Kenyans, who are experiencing what they call "Kenya's first war" -- the first cross-border military incursion since Kenya's 1963 independence into border areas of Somalia.
The purpose? Rout out al-Shabaab, the radical Islamist group that rules much of Somali territory and is blamed for terrorist strikes within Kenya.
"It's a very unsettled time for us as Kenyans. You don't know who is al-Shabaab," a Kenyan Catholic Relief Services worker told me during a visit to Kenya and Ethiopia to report on the drought and other humanitarian problems affecting both countries. "We've never been to war. It's a very new thing for Kenyans."
While an external war may be something novel, crises within Kenya are hardly unusual -- Kenyans still talk about the lasting effects of a political crisis that erupted in late 2007 and early 2008 and resulted in massive violence throughout the country.