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Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power [Kindle Edition]

David E. Sanger
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $9.98
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Three and a half years ago, David Sanger’s book The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power described how a new American president came to office with the world on fire. Now, just as the 2012 presidential election battle begins, Sanger follows up with an eye-opening, news-packed account of how Obama has dealt with those challenges, relying on innovative weapons and reconfigured tools of American power to try to manage a series of new threats. 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. 

As the world seeks to understand the contours of the Obama Doctrine, 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.

Editorial Reviews


"A must-read for policy wonks and a good primer on how American power works beyond our borders."

"Penetrating history of the presiden'ts effort to grapple with a world in flux..."
New York Times 

"Sanger is one of the leading national security reporters in the United States, and this astonishingly revealing insider's account of the Obama administration's foreign policy process is a triumph of the genre.''
—Foreign Affairs

"Meticulously reported, immensely readable..."
—The Washington Post

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5566 KB
  • Print Length: 514 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B009BRJ6JO
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Updated edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006LTIS7G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,518 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
91 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the Wars of the 21st Century June 7, 2012
Piggybacking on GW Bush's earlier forays into cyber warfare, President Obama, in lieu of having to launch (or having to prevent Israel from launching) a full-scaled air attack, elected to launch instead, a joint cyber attack with Israel on the centrifuges at Iran's Natanz nuclear plant. In retrospect, it can be seen that Obama's motive for pulling Israel into a highly secret cyber project was designed primarily to dissuade our closest Middle East Ally, from launching its own unilateral (but what would have probably been a highly destabilizing) military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities. This well-written book goes into such scary detail about the whole enterprise, that like John McCain in his recent call for a Special Prosecutor to investigate the matter, I too wondered how a New York Times Reporter could get access to so many intricate details of such a closely held national security secret?

Here is a rough summary of the most interesting part of the book in my view: the author's description of how a Bush initiated project called "Olympic Games," unfolded and got played out under Obama's direction:

Following up on previous efforts to surreptitiously install faulty parts into Iran's German made computer systems and power supplies, General James Cartwright, of the U.S. strategic command, convinced President GW Bush that launching a cyber penetration effort could be at least as effective as the stratagem of trying to introduce faulty parts. Bush bought into Cartwright's idea, which outlined a way of gaining access to the Natanz plant's industrial computer controls by the innocent introduction via a thumb drive of a small bit of "sleeper" code called a "beacon.
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get it and think for yourself June 10, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book and a few related articles have riled political Washington for the past week. Sanger obviously had very high access, has sourced his open facts very well and wrote an excellent book. Here's a great inside look at the past three years of diplomacy, covert action and internal Administration deliberations.

I won't give another summary here; others already have. I will echo another reviewer's irritation at Sanger's introduction of Obama as "typical dovish Democrat" and transition to "Hawk." Sanger needed to tell a story here; like many in the Washington press corps, he is shocked (SHOCKED!) to find the President would act like either a "Hawk" or a politician. Sanger has difficulty moving away from that bit of conventional wisdom, an understandable problem given his own position as a New York Times reporter.

The only other point the book seems to lack is a deeper discussion of the legal and geo-political ramifications of nation-states' use of cyberwarfare in peacetime. Sanger brings up the point of nations using military-designed computer programs to weaken or spy upon other nations. Is this an act of war? Where is that line to be drawn? Sanger asks the question but doesn't search very far for his own position, nor does he look to any other outside voices on the subject.

So, we have an extended news article here, focusing on several challenges to the United States around the world and how this Administration has met them, for good or ill. Sanger doesn't take much of a position of his own, but this won't stop reviewers, talking heads, the left-wing blogosphere or right-wing shriek radio from spinning this book to their own ends. I believe this book is worth the money to read and decide for yourself.
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confronting the Obama Doctrine June 12, 2012
By H. P.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Confront and Conceal is, in many ways, the sequel to The Inheritance. The Inheritance was about the foreign policy challenges Obama inherited from Bush. In Confront and Conceal, Sanger examines how Obama has faced those changes and attempts to pin down an "Obama Doctrine." In Inheritance, Sanger presented America's foreign policy challenges as almost siloed. Here, he makes clear that our continued presence in Afghanistan is largely driven by our strategic interests in Pakistan, and those strategic interests are amplified by our interest in not leaving Pakistan with the alternative of China as their major ally and benefactor. And the money to pay for it all comes from the same place. Everything is linked.

Confront and Conceal is organized into five parts, covering: Afghanistan & Pakistan, Iran, drones & cyber warfare, the Arab Spring, and China & North Korea. The section on Afghanistan & Pakistan is the longest by a fair margin, taking up almost one third of the book. China & North Korea, by comparison, is given short shrift. In my mind, it's hard to argue that the Arab Spring deserves twice the space as China & North Korea.

A renewed exuberance for the Afghan war (reflecting Obama's campaign rhetoric) soon faded under sober inspection. Transforming Afghanistan into a modern nation was not and never had been feasible. There is simply no way to replace the development aid and military spending that accounted for the vast majority of Afghanistan's GDP. So our focus shifted to warily watching Pakistan and (rightly) putting our pursuit of al-Qaeda first, even if it means jeopardizing our relationship with Pakistan, as the mission to kill Osama bin Laden did.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading for anyone who has an opinion about...
An excellent read which fills in the ongoing story behind the daily news casts & newspaper headlines. Read more
Published 1 month ago by W. Williamson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Up-to-date review of the complexities of the Middle East and other problem areas.
Published 1 month ago by Santiago
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
as described
Published 1 month ago by Stephen C. Barnhart
3.0 out of 5 stars Author has a blind spot --- still worth reading with that in mind
I am pretty near the end of this book -- Part V, "China and North Korea." I bought the audio version from Mr. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Steve
2.0 out of 5 stars A full fleged attempt to define order to the chaos of the...
I ordered this book because the review that I read suggested that it would make sense of the public chaos that I have seen of President Obama's flip-flopping in public with... Read more
Published 5 months ago by David Ecale
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Prompt delivery of this fine product.
Published 7 months ago by Rob Wagner
4.0 out of 5 stars Very comprehensive even if its a lot on Iran
Lots of good stories and interesting recaps of events and great research. I think its slightly too much Iran but as we all know its a pivotal ingredient to US FP. Read more
Published 8 months ago by @DavidFalt
5.0 out of 5 stars Bush was a chicken comparing to Obama's war on terror
It's so easy to say that Obama is doing nothing, that America is declining and all threats our mounting - and the tipping point is so close! Read more
Published 9 months ago by Piotr W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Obama's foreign policy is not a failure
We often describe Obama being impractical in his foreign policy, that his diplomacy failed with regard to all regions. But Mr. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Khimoiddin
5.0 out of 5 stars This guy was going to "different"?
Real eye-opener reveals that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". If this is what nice guys do, one has to wonder where the real bastards of modern... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr. R.G.Miller
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