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


The Biden Administration Needs To Up Its Game On Public Diplomacy

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Monday, October 11, 2021

I participate in a lot of discussions with foreigners about U.S. foreign policy, and I’m struck by how often people around the world are asking me to explain what the Biden administration is up to. Ukrainians want to know why President Biden supports the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Germany and Russia. Chinese citizens wonder why Biden has not lifted tariffs put in place by the Trump administration. Afghans, as well as many others around the world, still cannot make sense of the timetable behind the U.S. withdrawal from their country. These are just a few examples.


Michael McFaul: Here, Right Matters: A Book Talk With Alexander Vindman

interview with Michael McFaulvia The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Thursday, September 30, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul talks with retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman about his new book, Here, Right Matters.


Michael McFaul: Biden Has To Deal With Critics Abroad And At Home

interview with Michael McFaulvia MSNBC
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul talks about the president dealing with the dual pressures of the world being skeptical of US power and ideological differences with Republicans at home.


Michael McFaul: 20 years After 9/11

interview with Michael McFaulvia Stitcher
Thursday, September 9, 2021

(76:50) Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul talks about the Ukrainian President’s visit to America.


Michael McFaul: Thousands Trying To Flee Afghanistan As Taliban Cements Control Of Country

interview with Michael McFaulvia MSNBC
Friday, September 3, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul discusses the efforts to continue to evacuate at risk Afghans from their country as the Taliban cements their control of Afghanistan with a new government potentially announced within days.


The U.S. And Ukraine Need To Reboot Their Relationship. Here’s How They Can Do It.

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Monday, August 23, 2021

In the global struggle between democracy and dictatorship, and the fight for a peaceful Europe, Ukraine is on the front lines — not unlike West Germany during the Cold War. During the 20th century, the United States had to demonstrate extraordinary resolve in defending the democracy and security of our friends in West Berlin and West Germany from Soviet aggression. The same is now required in a divided Ukraine.


Michael McFaul: White House Should ‘Respond More Forcefully’ To Cyberattacks

interview with Michael McFaulvia Yahoo! News
Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul says the Biden administration must respond to potential cyberattacks linked to Russia.

In the News

China Chats With Stanford Faculty: USA Vs China: A New Cold War? Great Power Relations And Competition In The 21st Century With Prof. Michael McFaul

mentioning Michael McFaulvia Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Friday, June 25, 2021

Thirty years ago, the Cold War ended. Today, great power competition is back – or so it seems – with many describing our present era as a “New Cold War” between the United States and China (and Russia). But is this label an illuminating or distorting analogy? More importantly, what should the U.S. do to meet the challengers of great power competition in the 21st century?


Michael McFaul: Biden Has To 'Rebut A Lot Of What About-ism' From Putin

interview with Michael McFaulvia Yahoo News
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul discusses the Russian president's post-summit press conference and previews how Biden should handle his own press conference after "a lot of what about-ism" from Putin.
In the News

What Biden Knows About Being A Superpower That Republicans Don’t

quoting Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Wednesday, June 16, 2021

President Biden’s first overseas trip, to a large extent, is an affirmation that his predecessor was an aberration whose views were anathema to American values. Biden’s success in repairing relations with European allies could be seen in expressions of solidarity but also in concrete results and elevation of democracy as a tool of foreign policy.