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

Featured

Iran Must Free Farhad Meysami, A Nonviolent Fighter For Human Rights

by Abbas Milani, Larry Diamond, Francis Fukuyama, Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

In recent weeks, moral outrage has been stirred by the barbaric war that Saudi Arabia has waged in Yemen, by the Saudi government’s brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and by President Trump’s failure to condemn and sanction these offenses, out of concern for damaging economic interests, real or exaggerated. At the same time, however, another human tragedy has been gathering in Iran, and it is one we might still avert, before it is too late.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump Is Pulling Out Of One Of The Most Successful Arms-Control Treaties Ever

by Michael McFaulvia Washington Post
Thursday, October 25, 2018

President Trump’s assault on international treaties and agreements is taking another victim: the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The Cold War-era treaty eliminated the deployment of all land-based U.S. and Russian nuclear and conventionally armed missiles (and their launchers) with a range between 311 miles and 3,420 miles.

Enabling Autocrats Is Not In The American National Interest

by Michael McFaul
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Since the beginning of our republic, all American presidents have had to balance the dueling goals of advancing democratic values with the pursuit of security and economic interests. 

Featured

Want Americans To Vote? Give Them The Day Off.

by Adam Bonica, Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Voter turnout in the United States is among the lowest in the world. In the 2014 midterm elections, 33 percent of the voting-age population voted, setting the record for the lowest turnout in any national election of any advanced democracy (except Andorra) since 1945. There are many reasons so few Americans vote, but among them is that the United States is one of the few countries that holds elections on a workday.

Essays

The Missed Opportunity of Technological Breakthrough in Putin’s Russia

by Michael McFaulvia Governance In An Emerging New World
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Russians are richer today than they have ever been in their thousand-year history. Today, Russians enjoy a GDP-per capita of $11,900, down from a 2013 peak of $16,000, but moving in the right direction again. Between 2000 and 2008, Russia’s GDP grew by 83%, productivity grew by 70%, Russia’s share in the world economy grew fourfold, from 0.6% to 2.7%, real wages increased by 3.4 times, and real pensions increased by 2.8 times.

Featured

Putin Wanted To Interrogate Me. Trump Called It ‘An Incredible Offer.’ Why?

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Friday, July 27, 2018

I thought I was done worrying about Vladimir Putin. I left Moscow in 2014 as the departing U.S. ambassador, after Putin spent my two-year stint deploying state-controlled media outlets and their surrogates to propagate disinformation about me.

Featured

The U.S. Needs A Russia Strategy Now More Than Ever

by Michael McFaulvia Foreign Affairs
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump shocked the world earlier this week when, standing side by side with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he refused to accept the basic facts of the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump appeared to back Putin over his own intelligence community, saying during a press conference in Helsinki, “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia that hacked into Democratic Party servers.

Analysis and Commentary

The Trump-Putin Summit In Helsinki Was A Historic Event — In The Worst Possible Way

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

As I touched down in Helsinki two days ago, I had one small hope — that the “summit” between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would not be a historic one. During my five years serving in the Obama administration, I attended many summits, meetings and talks with Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Putin. Almost all were memorable to me, enough that I’ve written about them in my book, “From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia.”

Featured

Why Trump’s Personalized Approach To Diplomacy Is Bad For America

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Thursday, June 28, 2018

Late last year, President Trump said he wasn't especially worried about making senior appointments at the State Department. Why? "I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that's what the policy is going to be," he declared. "You’ve seen that, you’ve seen it strongly."

Featured

Russia As It Is

by Michael McFaulvia Foreign Affairs
Friday, June 15, 2018

[Subscription Required] Relations between Russia and the United States have deteriorated to their most dangerous point in decades. The current situation is not, as many have dubbed it, a new Cold War.

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