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


How Trump Can Play Nice With Russia, Without Selling Out America

by Michael McFaulvia Foreign Policy
Friday, January 6, 2017

[Registration Required] There’s no one playbook for dealing with Moscow. But if Trump doesn’t figure out which his is, before shooting from the hip, it could be deadly.


America Needs To Play Both The Short And Long Game In Cybersecurity

by Michael McFaul, Amy Zegartvia The Washington Post
Monday, December 19, 2016

In his last news conference of the year (and maybe last ever as president) last week, President Obama squarely assigned blame to the Russian government for stealing data from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, with the intent of disrupting our electoral process and helping one candidate, President-elect Donald Trump. Obama also promised to respond but left out details about how and when.


Let’s Get The Facts Right On Foreign Involvement In Our Elections

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Saturday, December 10, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election and will be the next president of the United States. As I have written before in these pages, the rules of the game for choosing our presidents need to be changed, but that discussion concerns future elections, not this past one. A win is a win.


Shaping And Constraining The Next Administration’s Foreign Policy Agenda

by Michael McFaulvia Medium
Thursday, December 8, 2016

The United States still plays an outsized role in almost every international policy domain, and therefore seeking to impact the formulation and implementation of the administration’s foreign policies, including resisting the implementation of some ideas, must remain a central focus of our applied efforts.


Our Allies Are Afraid. Here’s How Trump Can Reassure Them.

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Thursday, November 17, 2016

Around the world, our allies are worried. Here in South Korea, President-elect Donald Trump’s unexpected election victory has fueled a deep sense of uncertainty about the future of American leadership in Asia and the world.


Trump Is Right: The United States Needs Electoral Reform

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Monday, October 31, 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has claimed that the U.S. presidential election is rigged. In other countries where free and fairness of elections are suspect, political and societal leaders often call upon international short-term and long-term election monitors to observe their polls and render an assessment.

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Peace as Cold as Siberia

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 21, 2016

America’s frigid relations with Russia have little to do with US policy. They have a great deal to do with Vladimir Putin. 


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.


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.


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.