In August 2008, after war erupted between Georgia and Russia, the Bush administration was seeking to play a role as mediator. One day, Rice writes in “No Higher Honor,” she received a call from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said that the Russians had three demands.

The first two Rice considered feasible: Georgia would have to sign a pledge that it would cease the use of force, and it would have to send its troops back to the barracks. The third was decidedly more complicated.

Here’s Rice:

But then Sergei said, “The other demand is just between us. Misha Saakashvili [the Georgian president] has to go.” I couldn’t believe my ears and I reacted out of instinct, not analysis.

“Sergei, the secretary of state of the United States does not have a conversation with the Russian foreign minister about overthrowing a democratically elected president,” I said. “The third condition has just become public because I’m going to call everyone I can and tell them that Russia is demanding the overthrow of the Georgian president.”