The President's Diplomatic Firefighter
Somehow Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice remains everything her boss, the President, is not: popular at home, respected abroad and still viewed by the foreign-policy establishment as more of a realist. In 2006 she was the globetrotting diplomat, racing to hot spots to put out fires. In April she delivered an ultimatum to then acting Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari in Baghdad that he form a coalition government or resign (he was out 2 1/2 weeks later). In July and August she brokered a cease-fire in Lebanon between Israel and Hizballah. In the meantime she burned up more jet fuel, Diet Cokes and cell-phone batteries negotiating with U.N. Security Council members over two resolutions sanctioning North Korea for its bad behavior.
But the fires doused by Rice, 52, don't stay out for long. A resurgent Hizballah is trying to bring down the U.S.-backed government in Beirut. Pyongyang is unbowed, while Moscow and Beijing are balking at tough Security Council sanctions against Iran for its nuclear activities. And as Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki has proved disappointing. An aide promises that Rice will "spend her heart and soul" trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2007. But no promises have been made on the result.
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