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, 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

In the News

The Not-So-Quiet American

featuring Michael McFaulvia Boise Weekly (Idaho)
Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Talking to Michael McFaul, it's easy to get the sense that he isn't sure if he should bite his tongue, but on Oct. 15, hours before speaking before a packed Jordan Ballroom at Boise State University, he opened up about the differences between his time serving President Barack Obama and what he sees the state of U.S.-Russian relations headed under President Donald Trump.

In the News

Former U.S. Ambassador To Russia: Congress Must Hold Public Foreign Policy Hearings

quoting Michael McFaulvia Idaho Statesman
Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul told Treasure Valley reporters on Monday that all elected representatives, including those working closely on U.S. foreign policy, have a responsibility to communicate with the public.

Interviews

How US Foreign Policy Toward Russia Has Changed With Former Ambassador Michael McFaul

interview with Michael McFaulvia Boise State Public Radio
Friday, October 11, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul discusses his book From Cold War to Hot Peace, which combines history and memoir to tell the story of US-Russia relations from the fall of the Soviet Union to the new rise of the Russian President Putin.

Former U.S. Ambassador To Russia Michael McFaul 'Shocked' By Ukraine Text Messages

interview with Michael McFaul
Saturday, October 5, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul talks about the text messages between American and Ukrainian officials that were released earlier this week.

Featured

Here’s What A Presidential Phone Call With A Foreign Leader Looks Like In A Normal White House

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Monday, September 30, 2019

The publication of the rough transcript of the phone call — known as a “Memorandum of Telephone Conversation,” or TelCon for short — between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky inspires nostalgic memories for me. I used to participate in similar calls for President Barack Obama during my days at the National Security Council. Between the 2008 election and my departure for Moscow in 2012 to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Russia, I arranged, prepped and listened to dozens of such calls. Yet in terms of logistics and tenor, the infamous Trump-Zelensky call appears to be unlike the calls I worked on between Obama and other world leaders.

In the News

Hoover Event Calls For National Unity To Combat Threat Faced By Rising Eurasian Powers

quoting Admiral Gary Roughead, Abbas Milani, Michael McFaulvia The Stanford Daily
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Reflecting on the rise of three Eurasian superpowers — China, Russia and Iran — three Hoover Institution faculty spoke at the Institution’s Traitel Auditorium on the need for national unity in ensuring the promotion of American values and interests over the next decades. The event featured speakers Gary Roughhead, Abbas Milani and Michael McFaul and was part of a broader Hoover lecture series intended to promote values of American democracy, private enterprise and political freedom as it celebrates the centennial of its founding.

Interviews

Michael McFaul And Alex Stamos: Should We Be Worried About Election Interference In 2020? Probably, Says Facebook’s Former Chief Security Officer

interview with Michael McFaul, Alex Stamosvia World Class
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Hoover Institution fellows Michael McFaul and Alex Stamos discuss the security of the 2020 elections. Stamos says he is “extremely worried” that the upcoming US presidential election will see some kind of interference from foreign adversaries.

Analysis and Commentary

How Vladimir Putin Is Outplaying The U.S. In Africa

by Grant T. Harris, Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

President Trump and his administration remain deeply divided on several foreign policy issues. Take Russia, for example. While the president continues to pursue a broad rapprochement with Vladimir Putin, the diplomats, soldiers and Treasury officials who work for him have maintained a tough line on the Kremlin.

Featured

In Foreign Policy, Trump Gets Points For Creativity. Results, Not So Much

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

I have a confession to make: I was wrong about President Trump’s ambition regarding foreign policy. At the beginning of his presidency, I assumed — sometimes in The Post — that Trump would pursue a modest program in international affairs and focus instead on his larger domestic agenda, much touted during the 2016 presidential campaign.

In the News

An Interview With Former U.S. Ambassador To Russia, Michael McFaul

featuring Michael McFaulvia Los Angeles Times High School Insider
Friday, August 30, 2019

Walking on the campus of Stanford University, you might spot Michael McFaul in one of its Romanesque buildings or somewhere along one of its well-curated paths. At Stanford, he is a professor of political science and a senior fellow at both the Freeman Institute for International Studies and the Hoover Institution.

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