Confront and Conceal by David Sanger
Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power
- On sale: January 1, 1970
- Price: $
- ISBN: 9780307718020
Acclaimed New York Times journalist David Sanger writes news breaking account of President Barack Obama’s national security decisions.
Exclusive new book reveals never-before-told details about a sophisticated cyber-war program against Iran, a secret committee on Afghanistan called “Afghan Good Enough,” the chaos of the Arab spring, and how an effort to re-establish American power in the Pacific set the stage for a new era of tensions with the world’s great rising power, China
An eye-opening, news-packed account of how Obama has dealt with foreign policy and national security challenges, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power (Crown, June 5th) by David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent for the New York Times and twice a member of Times teams that won the Pulitzer Prize, is the first thorough analysis of the Obama Doctrine in action. Relying on original and in-depth reporting in Washington and around the globe, Sanger deftly recounts how a President with little previous experience in national security embraced new thinking, new technologies and new covert programs to extend American power in an age of austerity. Sanger describes how Obama’s early idealism about fighting “a war of necessity” in Afghanistan quickly turned to fatigue and frustration, how the early hopes that the Arab Spring would bring about a democratic awakening slipped away, and how an effort to re-establish American power in the Pacific set the stage for a new era of tensions with the world’s great rising power, China. “The bin Laden raid was his best-known gamble…but it was likely not the biggest, or even the most important bet of his presidency,” writes Sanger. “Obama’s gamble that a rising generation of Chinese leaders doesn’t want to go head-to-head with the United States may represent his biggest roll of the dice.”
It is, in short, the story of a new president trying to manage a world on fire, in an era when many question America’s leadership and staying power. The book includes exclusive never-before-revealed details on:
Secret cyber-warfare in Iran: For four years, the United States has repeatedly struck Iran with some of the most sophisticated cyber weapons ever developed. The program, called “Olympic Games’’ is the most extensive, sustained use of cyber weapons in American history, and it opens a new chapter in how the United States conducts covert action. President Obama was updated every few weeks and authorized a series of new strikes.
“Stuxnet” was a mistake: A version of a worm developed for Olympic Games was slipped into the computer control system into the Natanz facility in Iran before it had been fully tested by the United States and Israel, which was a full partner in the development of the software. It hopped aboard the laptop of an unwitting Iranian engineer and when he left the plant and connected to the internet the program replicated itself around the world.
Loose Nuke in Pakistan: For four days or so in 2009, the Obama White House feared the Pakistani Taliban might have a nuclear weapon and dispatched a nuclear search team to the region. It turned out to be a false alarm, but dramatically affected how a new team viewed the dangers lurking in Pakistan.A tense secret meeting in Abu Dhabi: In the fall of 2011 national security adviser Tom Donilon met with General Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the Pakistani military, and told him that unless Pakistan dealt with the Haqqani network, which engineered attacks on the American embassy in Kabul and other acts of violence, that President Obama might be forced to violate Pakistani sovereignty yet again to deal with the group – just as he did when he decided to go after Osama bin Laden. General Kayani warned that if the US ever entered Pakistan again without permission, the consequences would be severe.
The last telephone conversation between Mubarak and Obama: Based on a transcript made by the White House of the last telephone conversation between President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and President Obama, the Egyptian leader expressed confidence that he could put down the uprising. Obama pushed back, against advice from his advisors, telling him it was time to go.
Detailed account of efforts to deal with China: The strategy President Obama attempted with China in his first year in office – treating the country as an economic equal and rising military power – backfired, as the Chinese determined America was weak, and still reeling from the financial crisis. When Beijing started pushing around American allies in the resource-rich South China Sea in 2010, Obama’s Asia team had to quickly re-vamp the accommodation approach. They used the momentum of anti-Beijing sentiment in the region to build a kind of electric fence around China with regional allies. Hillary Clinton described the Administration’s painstaking effort to send a clear message while avoiding “big-footing it” in China’s backyard.
In Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power Sanger describes a president at once cautious and lawyerly and, at times, willing to take some extraordinary risks. It takes readers into the situation room debate over how to undermine Iran’s nuclear program while simultaneously trying to prevent Israel from taking military action that could plunge the region into another war. And it explains what happens when Obama runs up against the limits of American power – limits placed by the rise of competitors, by a public exhausted by a decade of war, and by Obama’s own insistence that in many cases, when American interests are not directly imperiled, others must take the lead and bear the financial burden.
As the world seeks to understand the contours of the Obama Doctrine, especially as the 2012 presidential election battle begins, Confront and Conceal is a fascinating, unflinching account of these complex years, in which the president and his administration have found themselves struggling to stay ahead in a world where power is diffuse and America’s ability to exert control grows ever more elusive.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DAVID E. SANGER is the chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times and bestselling author of The Inheritance. He has been a member of two teams that won the Pulitzer Prize and has received numerous awards for coverage of the presidency and national security policy. He also teaches national security policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.