Michael McFaul

Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow

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, From Cold War to Hot Peace (2018), 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


"From Cold War To Hot Peace" By Michael McFaul

interview with Michael McFaulvia Boise State Public Radio
Friday, October 16, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul discusses his book From Cold War to Hot Peace.


Michael McFaul On Talking Beats With Daniel Lelchuk

interview with Michael McFaulvia Talking Beats with Daniel Lelchuk
Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul discusses Putin and Russia.

Trump’s Foreign Policy Report Card Is Full Of Failing Grades

by Michael McFaul
Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Presidents running for reelection should be judged by their accomplishments, not promises. As President Trump seeks a new mandate from the American people, it’s time to give some grades for what he has achieved regarding foreign policy during his first four years in office.


Michael McFaul: Will The U.S. And Russia Extend ‘New Start’ By February? Here’s What It Takes

interview with Michael McFaulvia Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Friday, September 11, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul talks with Rose Gottemoeller, the chief U.S. negotiator of the treaty. Gottemoeller says that it wasn’t easy to come to an agreement with the Russians, and she shares her assessment about whether new START will be renewed, as well as what steps should be taken to ensure that it does.

A Russian Dissident Is Fighting For His Life. Where Is The U.S.?

by Michael McFaul
Thursday, August 20, 2020

Alexei Navalny holds the audacious belief that Russians should be able to choose their leaders in free, fair and competitive elections. That’s why he tried to run for president in 2018, but was denied a place on the ballot.


Xi Jinping Is Not Stalin

by Michael McFaulvia Foreign Affairs
Monday, August 10, 2020

How a Lazy Historical Analogy Derailed Washington’s China Strategy.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Trump’s Complacency About Putin Is A Problem — Whatever His Motives

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

President Trump has changed his mind on many issues. Yet there is one theme of his presidency that remains strikingly constant: his peculiar deference to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. 

“Doomed to Cooperate”

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Just as during the Cold War, Beijing and Washington must work together against this common threat or fail separately.

In the News

US Orders China To Close Houston Consulate; Trump Hints At More

quoting Michael McFaulvia Nikkei Asian Review
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The U.S. has ordered China to shut its consulate in Houston within three days, a move that Washington said defends America but which Beijing denounced as an "unprecedented escalation" of tensions.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump Would Do Anything For Putin. No Wonder He’s Ignoring The Russian Bounties.

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Russia’s pattern of hostility matches Trump’s pattern of accommodation.