Inside the White House Situation Room, the newly elected Barack Obama immerses himself in the details of a remarkable new American capability to launch cyberwar against Iran—and escalates covert operations to delay the day when the mullahs could obtain a nuclear weapon. Over the next three years Obama accelerates drone attacks as an alternative to putting troops on the ground in Pakistan, and becomes increasingly reliant on the Special Forces, whose hunting of al-Qaeda illuminates the path out of an unwinnable war in Afghanistan.
Confront and Conceal provides readers with a picture of an administration that came to office with the world on fire. It takes them into the Situation Room debate over how to undermine Iran’s program while simultaneously trying to prevent Israel from taking military action that could plunge the region into another war. It dissects how the bin Laden raid worsened the dysfunctional relationship with Pakistan. And it traces how Obama’s early idealism about fighting “a war of necessity” in Afghanistan quickly turned to fatigue and frustration.
One of the most trusted and acclaimed national security correspondents in the country, David Sanger of the New York Times takes readers deep inside the Obama administration’s most perilous decisions: The president dispatches an emergency search team to the Gulf when the White House briefly fears the Taliban may have obtained the Bomb, but he rejects a plan in late 2011 to send in Special Forces to recover a stealth drone that went down in Iran. Obama overrules his advisers and takes the riskiest path in killing Osama bin Laden, and ignores their advice when he helps oust Hosni Mubarak from the presidency of Egypt.
“The surprise is his aggressiveness,” a key ambassador who works closely with Obama reports.
Yet the president has also pivoted American foreign policy away from the attritional wars of the past decade, attempting to preserve America’s influence with a lighter, defter touch—all while focusing on a new era of diplomacy in Asia and reconfiguring America’s role during a time of economic turmoil and austerity.
As the world seeks to understand whether there is an 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.