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

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A Chance for Iranian Reform

by Abbas Milani, Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Obama administration’s nuclear deal, many Iranians believe, could encourage changes in Iran itself.

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Red Tide Ebbing

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Although he may appear to have outmaneuvered Washington, Vladimir Putin has made missteps—and given the United States a chance to press for a democratic, responsible Russia.


Can America And Russia Cooperate In Syria?

by Michael McFaulvia Moscow Times
Wednesday, January 6, 2016

President Vladimir Putin's decision to intervene in Syria marked a major turning point in Russian foreign policy in 2015. While Putin correctly calculated that most of the world would condemn his military actions in Chechnya, Georgia, and Ukraine, he hopes for solidarity and support from the international community for his actions in Syria.


Where the 2016 Republicans Split From Ronald Reagan

by Michael McFaulvia The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, December 17, 2015

During the Republican primary debate held at the Ronald Reagan library in September, presidential candidates struggled to outdo each other in their admiration for and affinity with President Reagan. During Tuesday’s debate, however, everyone except Sen. Marco Rubio seemed to have rejected Ronald Reagan’s approach to foreign policy and national security.


The Myth­ Of Putin’s Strategic Genius

by Michael McFaulvia New York Times
Friday, October 23, 2015

The Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, continues to surprise. Russia’s military intervention in Syria, followed by a face-to-face meeting in Moscow this week with that country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has startled the world.

Analysis and Commentary

What The Iran-Deal Debate Is Like In Iran

by Abbas Milani, Michael McFaulvia The Atlantic
Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The agreement has divided Iranians into camps that could shape the future of the country.

Who Lost Russia (This Time)? Vladimir Putin

by Michael McFaul, Kathryn Stoner
Friday, July 31, 2015

In the late 1990s, as Russia’s economy descended into a death spiral—eventually culminating in the August 1998 crash of the ruble and the government’s default on its international loan commitments—a series of books and articles appeared asking, “Who Lost Russia?”

Michael McFaul
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Containing Putin

by Michael McFaulvia Fellow Talks
Monday, April 20, 2015

Michael McFaul, the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of political science at Stanford, and director and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, discusses Putin and his worldview, and how to contain him.

Michael McFaul speaks at Hoover's 2014 Fall Retreat

Our New Confrontation with Russia: Causes and Consequences.

by Michael McFaulvia Fellow Talks
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

At Hoover's 2014 Fall Retreat, Michael Mcfaul, the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at Hoover, discussed the US-Russia relationship in a talk entitled “Our New Confrontation with Russia: Causes and Consequences.”

Analysis and Commentary

To Beat Putin, Support Ukraine

by Michael McFaulvia The New York Times
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IN response to Russian support for Ukrainian rebels, and in coordination with European leaders, President Obama has instituted the most comprehensive set of economic sanctions ever against Russian officials and companies. Europe is considering alternate energy policies to reduce Russia’s economic leverage. NATO is re-energized. And moral, unified condemnation of Russia’s actions has damaged Russia’s international reputation.