Michael McFaul

Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow
Biography: 

Michael A. McFaul is the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution as well as a professor of political science, director and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He also currently works as a news analyst for NBC.  His areas of expertise include international relations, Russian politics, comparative democratization, and American foreign policy.  From January 2012 to February 2014, he served as the US ambassador to the Russian Federation.  Before becoming ambassador, he served for three years as a special assistant to the president and senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council. 

He has authored and edited several books including, with Kathryn Stoner, eds., Transitions to Democracy: A Comparative Perspective (2013); Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can (2009); with Valerie Bunce and Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, eds., Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Postcommunist World (2009); with Anders Aslund, eds., Revolution in Orange: The Origins of Ukraine's Democratic Breakthrough (2006); with Nikolai Petrov and Andrei Ryabov, Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Postcommunist Political Reform (2004); with James Goldgeier, Power and Purpose: American Policy toward Russia after the Cold War, (2003); with Timothy Colton, Popular Choice and Managed Democracy: The Russian Elections of 1999 and 2000 (Brookings Institution Press, 2003); Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin (2001); Russia's 1996 Presidential Election: The End of Bi-Polar Politics (1997); with Tova Perlmutter, eds., Privatization, Conversion and Enterprise Reform in Russia (1995); Post-Communist Politics: Democratic Prospects in Russia and Eastern Europe (1993); and, with Sergei Markov, The Troubled Birth of Russian Democracy: Political Parties, Programs and Profiles (1993). His articles have appeared in Constitutional Political Economy, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, International Organization, International Security, Journal of Democracy, Political Science Quarterly, Post-Soviet Affairs, and World Politics. His op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Politico, Time, and the Weekly Standard.

Dr. McFaul was born and raised in Montana. He received his BA in international relations and Slavic languages and his MA in Soviet and East European studies from Stanford University in 1986.  He was awarded a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford where he completed his D.Phil in international relations in 1991.

His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

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Recent Commentary

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Donald Trump And Ronald Reagan Could Not Be More Different On Foreign Policy

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Friday, September 23, 2016

Earlier this month, Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence made a pilgrimage to the Reagan library, where he tried to make the case that his running mate, Donald Trump, shared many ideas and traits with former president Ronald Reagan.

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Michael McFaul Explains How Russia Became A Major Theme In The US Presidential Race

by Michael McFaulvia Meduza
Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Russia has become one of the major themes of this year's presidential contest in the United States. While questions about domestic policy typically dominate the race to the White House, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the biggest media outlets in the US have regularly focused on Vladimir Putin, the annexation of Crimea, and various acts by Russian intelligence agencies.

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Why Putin Wants A Trump Victory (So Much He Might Even Be Trying To Help Him)

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to see Donald Trump become the next president of the United States. To that end, Putin and his government have taken unprecedented steps to influence our electoral process to help the Republican Party’s nominee. 

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How To Counter The Putin Playbook

by Michael McFaulvia The New York Times
Saturday, July 30, 2016

A quarter-century ago, at the end of the Cold War, it seemed that only democracies promoted their values abroad. Today, autocracies have entered the arena again, exporting their ideas and methods — even to the United States.

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Mr. Trump, NATO Is An Alliance, Not A Protection Racket

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Monday, July 25, 2016

In his recent interview with the New York Times, Donald Trump warned that the United States would defend only NATO allies who have “fulfilled their obligations to us.” He made clear that he sees allies as business partners, and relationships with them in transactional terms: Pay up or we won’t protect you.

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Ghosts of the Arab Spring

by Amr Hamzawy, Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 11, 2016

The world seems to have forgotten Arabs’ yearning for freedom. Yet real stability can come about only when this yearning is satisfied at last.

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How Brexit Is A Win For Putin

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Saturday, June 25, 2016

When Vladimir Putin worked in Dresden, he watched helplessly as Soviet ally East Germany slipped out of Moscow’s orbit, united with West Germany, and joined the democratic side of Europe. 

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Michael McFaul: U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing

by Michael McFaulvia U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul testifies at the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing concerning “US Policy Towards Putin’s Russia.”

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European Disunion

interview with Michael McFaul, John O'Sullivanvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, June 13, 2016

What is happening in Europe?

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How To Rescue Egypt

by Amr Hamzawy, Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Five years after the Arab Spring, democracy seems a distant dream in the Middle East. Arab ruling elites, royal families, militaries, security services and some businesspeople welcome this outcome. Restoring stability, the argument goes, is more important than democracy.

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