Rice's Toughest Mission

How Condoleezza Rice hopes to bring peace to the Middle East - and salvage the Administration's foreign policy

Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME

Condoleezza Rice looks on as U.S. President George W. Bush meets with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in the Oval Office at the White House, September 14, 2006.

Here's what it's like to face Condoleezza Rice. When she walks into the room, she opens a slim leather notebook and pulls out a couple of 3-by-8 note cards imprinted with the words SECRETARY OF STATE and filled with half a dozen key words distilled from hours of speed readings and briefings. She will let her hosts do most of the talking while she tries to assess their bottom lines. In a negotiation, she sits archer-straight, lowers her voice and deploys a laser-like glare. "You need to do better than that," she will say. "You can't sit there and tell me...

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