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

In the News

Former Partner Of Maria Butina, NRA-Linked Russian Agent, Indicted

quoting Michael McFaulvia Salon
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Paul Erickson, the Republican operative best known for his romantic relationship with convicted Russian agent Maria Butina, has been indicted on unrelated charges.
In the News

Autocracies That Look Like Democracies Are A Threat Across The Globe

quoting Michael McFaulvia The Conversation
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Russia’s successful interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election may inspire other countries to do the same. These other countries don’t look threatening. They look like democracies. But they’re not.

In the News

The Unquiet American

featuring Michael McFaulvia The American Interest
Monday, February 4, 2019

Michael McFaul’s memoir throws into sharp relief the failures of America’s Russia policy.

Featured

Sorry, But Trump Is Not ‘Tough On Russia’

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Wednesday, January 16, 2019

To defend himself from accusations of collusion or collaboration with Russian government officials during the 2016 presidential election and after, President Trump recently repeated a familiar claim: “I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President.”

Analysis and Commentary

Why Vladimir Putin Is A Terrible Strategist

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Monday, December 17, 2018

President Vladimir Putin has carefully crafted an image as a strong man of action — one whose will and power have single-handedly restored Russia’s status as a great power.

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.

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