Contemporary terrorism is rarely discussed through the lens of North-South relations. The favoured tropes revolve around the clash of cultures and the defence of civilization, rather than the struggle between rich and the poor, the strong and the weak. Casual reference to studies putatively demonstrating poverty does not lead to terrorism is seemingly sufficient to settle the issue. But past and present North-South relations are of profound significance for the current conflict. They in fact comprise in large measure its historical and social context. Grasping this context is essential for crafting strategies that do more than fuel the burning resentments of peoples who suffered historic defeats at the hands of imperial powers. It is also essential for avoiding the dire domestic consequences past "small wars" have had for Western powers, not least in France and the US.