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

Moscow, Misreading Bush

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 30, 2001

Vladimir Putin and his inner circle quietly rooted for George W. Bush last November, assuming that a Bush administration would overlook Russia’s human rights record. Now it’s time for the Bush administration to set the Russians straight. By Hoover fellow Michael McFaul.

The Putin Paradox

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 30, 2000

Russia’s new president may claim to represent democracy and economic liberalization, but his first months in office have given the West considerable cause for alarm. Hoover fellow Michael McFaul on actions that speak louder than words.
Sidebar: The On-the-Job Training of Vladimir Putin.

Indifferent to Democracy

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, July 30, 2000

For years we assumed that the threat to Russian democracy would come from outside the Russian state. Now we can see that the real threat comes from within the Russian state. By Hoover fellow Michael McFaul.

Analysis and Commentary

Ulterior Motives in Chechnya

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, December 13, 1999

All countries have the right to defend their people from terrorists. Russia is no exception.

Kosovo Joyride

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Saturday, October 30, 1999

Russian foreign policy has become as erratic and unpredictable as the nation’s notoriously capricious leader—witness the Russian army’s ridiculous dash into Kosovo ahead of NATO troops last spring. As long as Boris Yeltsin remains in power, Hoover fellow Michael McFaul argues, Russia will continue to make a diplomatic spectacle of itself.

Why We Must Act

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Saturday, January 30, 1999

With Russia once again on the brink of collapse, the United States must do all it can to prop the country up. Hoover fellow Michael McFaul explains why.

ADIOS, IMF? International Monetary Fund

with John B. Taylor, Vinny Agarwall, Michael McFaulvia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, December 15, 1998

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has hundreds of billions of dollars at its disposal and is a major player in the economies of nations around the world. But just what does it do? Vinny Agarwall, Professor, Department of Political Science, and Director, Berkeley Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Study Center, University of California, Berkeley, Michael McFaul, Peter and Helen Bing Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, and John Taylor, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics, Stanford University pose the question: Is the IMF's mission still valid, or does it do more harm than good?

Russia Needs Reform, Not Higher Taxes

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 30, 1998

Mismanagement plunged Russia into the present economic abyss. Hoover fellow Michael McFaul explains what the country must do to climb out.

IT AIN'T OVER TILL IT'S OVER: U.S.-Russia Relations after the Cold War

with Michael McFaul, Brian Hallvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, May 29, 1998

Is our strategic weapons policy in line with Ronald Reagan's proclamation that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought"? Michael McFaul, Peter and Helen Bing Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, and Brian Hall, Contributor, New York Times Magazine pose the question: Is the Cold War really over?