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

A Tragic New Era

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Russia once again tramples democratic values and defies the world. Yet Putin has neither allies nor any appeal outside Russia itself. This autocracy too shall pass.

Michael McFaul on Uncommon Knowledge
Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Michael McFaul on Vladimir Putin and Russia

with Michael McFaulvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, May 19, 2014

In this Uncommon Knowledge, Hoover fellow Peter Robinson speaks with former US ambassador to Russia, Hoover senior fellow, and Stanford political science professor Michael McFaul. McFaul discusses Russian president Vladimir Putin’s complex and evolving rhetoric and strategic objectives, emphasizing recent developments in the US-Russia relationship, Putin and former US Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, and Ukraine’s strategic importance to Russia.

Moscow, Russia

Special: McFaul on the John Batchelor Show

by Michael McFaulvia John Batchelor Show
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

In conjunction with a special live taping of the John Batchelor Show at the Hoover Spring Retreat, John Batchelor and Mary Kissel of the Wall Street Journal discuss recent events in Russia and Ukraine with Hoover senior fellow and former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. Topics include the Sochi Olympics, McFaul’s arrival in Russia, and the Ukraine crisis.

EU and Eastern Europe Relations

McFaul on Morning Joe: “the best of a lot of bad options is to not allow Russia to annex more of eastern Ukraine”

by Michael McFaulvia Morning Joe (MSNBC)
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hoover senior fellow Michael McFaul discusses recent developments in Ukraine on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Topics include the power of sanctions, the historical perspective of sanctions on Russia, and Putin’s end goal.

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McFaul on MSNBC: “it wasn’t a great deal, but a whole lot better than the alternatives”

by Michael McFaulvia MSNBC
Friday, April 18, 2014

Hoover senior fellow Michael McFaul discusses the recent deal between Ukraine and Russia on MSNBC’s Hardball. Topics include the details of the deal, possible actions should the deal fall through, and anti-Semitism in Ukraine as a product of Putin’s nationalism.

Vladimir Putin

McFaul on NBC: “they’re changing the subject to talk about what they want”

by Michael McFaulvia NBC
Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hoover senior fellow and former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul discusses, along with Peter Baker of the New York Times, the state of US-Russia relations on NBC’s Meet the Press. Topics include Putin’s phone call to the White House, the possibility of a diplomatic solution, and Moldova.


McFaul on the John Batchelor Show: Putin’s “decided he no longer wants to accept the rules of the game”

by Michael McFaulvia John Batchelor Show
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hoover senior fellow Michael McFaul discusses US-Russia relations on the John Batchelor Show. Topics include defining “Putinism,” China-Russia relations, and the possibility of Russia invading eastern Ukraine.

Analysis and Commentary

Confronting Putin’s Russia

by Michael McFaulvia New York Times
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Analysis and Commentary

Notable & Quotable: Ambassador McFaul

by Michael McFaulvia Wall Street Journal
Sunday, March 16, 2014

From a March 15 Facebook post by Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, who left his position last month:

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McFaul on NBC News: “I think he is in a dangerous state of mind”

by Michael McFaulvia NBC
Monday, March 3, 2014

Hoover senior fellow Michael McFaul discusses potential US responses to Russia’s moves against Ukraine on NBC News. Topics include Putin’s mindset regarding Ukraine, Russia’s global image, debate within Russia about invading Crimea, and the Obama administration’s involvement in the crisis.