A new book sheds unprecedented light on President Barack Obama’s “secret wars and surprising use of American power.”
It’s Confront and Conceal, by David E. Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times.
Divided into five sections, it dramatically covers the following subjects:
Part 1: Afghanistan and Pakistan – How Obama has sought to disengage from the former while readying plans to occupy the latter should its growing nuclear arsenal pose a threat to America.
Part 2: Iran – To prevent the Iranians from building nuclear weapons, Obama authorized a malevolent virus to be inserted into that nation’s computer system.
Part 3: Drones and Cyber – American drone attacks have wiped out much of Al Qaeda’s leadership–but increasingly strained U.S. relations with Pakistan. And while America has launched cyber attacks on Iran, it remains vulnerable to similar attacks–especially by China.
Part 4: Arab Spring – America was totally surprised by the popular revolts sweeping the Arab world. And Obama had to balance showing support for the revolutionaries against jeopardizing America’s longtime Arab–and dictatorial–allies.
Part 5: China and North Korea – With the United States financially strained to meet its worldwide military commitments, Obama had to use a combination of persuasion and containment against both these potential adversaries.
Concentrating on America’s foreign policy in the age of Obama, the book says nothing about the 2012 Presidential race. Yet, in its section on the Arab Spring, there is an unintended warning to Mitt Romney and his right-wing followers.
Sanger analyzes why the vast majority of Egyptians felt no solidarity with Hosni Mubarak, the general/dictator who ruled Egypt since October, 1981. He came to power after fundamentalists assassinated President Anwar Sadat during a military review.
Mubarack often warned Washington that only he could prevent Egypt from being dominated by fundamentalist, anti-American groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
But, writes Sanger, he achieved the very opposite:
“By leaving his citizens without a social safety net, by failing to invest in the country’s crumbling infastructure…he paved the way for the Brotherhood’s success….
“In a land where the state delivers so little, even the smallest [medical] clinic” as provided by the Brotherhood “will win respect and loyalty.
“So when it came time to vote, most Egyptians decided to cast their ballots for candidates they knew could provide something–Islamist or not, it almost didn’t matter….”
One such Brotherhood supporter, who grew up in the poor, agricultural region of Beni Suef, was quoted as saying:
“The Muslim Brotherhood came into my village, and brought lorries of fruits and vegetables,” selling them at discounted prices. “They supported medical clinics”–and thus won the hearts of the people they served.
Fast forward to Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican Presidential nominee, and his vision for America.
As Romney sees it, questions about Wall Street scandals and income inequality are driven only by “envy.”
On January 11–after winning the New Hampshire primary–Romney appeared on NBC’s “The Today Show.” Host Matt Lauer noted that many Americans were concerned “about the distribution of wealth and power in this country.”
“I think it’s about envy,” replied Romney, whose own fortune has been conservatively estimated at $250 million. “I think it’s about class warfare.
“I think when you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent versus one percent… you’ve opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of ‘one nation under God.’”
Romney added that it wasn’t necessary to have a public debate about the inequality of wealth distribution in this country.
“I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like,” Romney said. “But the president has made this part of his campaign rally.
“Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it’ll fail.”
Romney did not mention that, in 2007, the richest 1% of the American populace–of which he is a member–owned 34.6% of the country’s total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%.
Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%.
Romney claimed that Obama’s focus on this issue was just “part of his campaign rally.”
Clearly, now-ousted rulers like Mubarak and Muammar Quaddaffi believed “it’s fine to talk about these things” like vast differences in wealth “in quiet rooms.” That is, so long as they and their 1% rich supporters were doing the talking.
But over time their remoteness from the vast majority of their impoverished fellow citizens sealed their doom. When enough people broke into open revolt, even the military decided to change sides.
Mubarack was forced to resign, and Quaddaffi–after waging war against his own people–was captured and murdered.
If Romney’s vision of “everything for the 1%” is allowed to prevail, he and his ultra-privileged supporters may truly learn the lessons of class warfare.