The two American presidents whose administrations have been defined by the war on terror met in Africa Tuesday to honor some of that war's earliest victims. Barack Obama wrapped up his tour of the continent with a stop in Tanzania on Tuesday, where he was met by George W. Bush, who was already in Tanzania on his own international trip. Together, they laid a wreath at a memorial in the American embassy at Dar es Salaam, which was the site of a deadly truck bombing in August of 1998. They also met with several survivors of the attack and relatives of some of the victims.
That attack -- and the simultaneous bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya that killed more than 200 people -- was the first major assault on American targets to be credited to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. (Ten Tanzanian citizens were killed in the Dar es Salaam bombing.) It also led to the first counter-attack on bin Laden, when President Bill Clinton ordered cruise missile strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan two weeks later.
President Obama was originally supposed to lay a wreath at the site by himself, but when Bush's unrelated trip happened to overlap with his own, he was invited as well. (He was in Tanzania to support Laura Bush's summit of African first ladies, which Michelle Obama also attended.) Together, the tenures of the last two commanders-in-chief represent the larger history of America's war on terror and the sight of them together at the place where some say it all began left a striking image.