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About David E. Sanger
DAVID E. SANGER is national security correspondent for the New York Times and bestselling author of The Inheritance and Confront and Conceal. He has been a member of three teams that won the Pulitzer Prize, including in 2017 for international reporting. A regular contributor to CNN, he also teaches national security policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
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The Perfect Weapon is the startling inside story of how the rise of cyberweapons transformed geopolitics like nothing since the invention of the atomic bomb. Cheap to acquire, easy to deny, and usable for a variety of malicious purposes, cyber is now the weapon of choice for democracies, dictators, and terrorists. Two presidents—Bush and Obama—drew first blood with Operation Olympic Games, which used malicious code to blow up Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, and yet America proved remarkably unprepared when its own weapons were stolen from its arsenal and, during President Trump’s first year, turned back on the United States and its allies. And if Obama would begin his presidency by helping to launch the new era of cyberwar, he would end it struggling unsuccessfully to defend against Russia’s broad attack on the 2016 US election.
Moving from the White House Situation Room to the dens of Chinese government hackers to the boardrooms of Silicon Valley, New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger reveals a world coming face-to-face with the perils of technological revolution, where everyone is a target.
“Timely and bracing . . . With the deep knowledge and bright clarity that have long characterized his work, Sanger recounts the cunning and dangerous development of cyberspace into the global battlefield of the twenty-first century.”—Washington Post
In a riveting narrative, The Inheritance describes the huge costs of distraction and lost opportunities at home and abroad as Iraq soaked up manpower, money, and intelligence capabilities. The 2008 market collapse further undermined American leadership, leaving the new president with a set of challenges unparalleled since Franklin D. Roosevelt entered the Oval Office.
Sanger takes readers into the White House Situation Room to reveal how Washington penetrated Tehran’s nuclear secrets, leading President Bush, in his last year, to secretly step up covert actions in a desperate effort to delay an Iranian bomb. Meanwhile, his intelligence chiefs made repeated secret missions to Pakistan as they tried to stem a growing insurgency and cope with an ally who was also aiding the enemy–while receiving billions in American military aid. Now the new president faces critical choices: Is it better to learn to live with a nuclear Iran or risk overt or covert confrontation? Is it worth sending U.S. forces deep into Pakistani territory at the risk of undermining an unstable Pakistani government sitting on a nuclear arsenal? It is a race against time and against a new effort by Islamic extremists–never before disclosed–to quietly infiltrate Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.
“Bush wrote a lot of checks,” one senior intelligence official told Sanger, “that the next president is going to have to cash.”
The Inheritance takes readers to Afghanistan, where Bush never delivered on his promises for a Marshall Plan to rebuild the country, paving the way for the Taliban’s return. It examines the chilling calculus of North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, who built actual weapons of mass destruction in the same months that the Bush administration pursued phantoms in Iraq, then sold his nuclear technology in the Middle East in an operation the American intelligence apparatus missed. And it explores how China became one of the real winners of the Iraq war, using the past eight years to expand its influence in Asia, and lock up oil supplies in Africa while Washington was bogged down in the Middle East. Yet Sanger, a former foreign correspondent in Asia, sees enormous potential for the next administration to forge a partnership with Beijing on energy and the environment.
At once a secret history of our foreign policy misadventures and a lucid explanation of the opportunities they create, The Inheritance is vital reading for anyone trying to understand the extraordinary challenges that lie ahead.
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.