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

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.


Michael McFaul: Perspectives On Futures Of Artificial Intelligence

interview with Michael McFaulvia Hoover Institution
Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul discusses the future of artificial intelligence.


Michael McFaul: See Donald Trump Debunk His Own ‘Fake News’ Attack

interview with Michael McFaulvia MSNBC
Friday, August 2, 2019

(1:58) Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul criticizes Trump’s vetting process, calling Ratcliffe’s nomination a failure of the inter-agency process in the Trump administration.


A High-Level Senate Report Confirms It: Our Elections Still Aren’t Safe

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Tuesday, July 30, 2019

In his congressional testimony last week, former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III once again confirmed the seriousness of Moscow’s attack on our democracy in the 2016 presidential election. Yet that wasn’t even the most important news for those of us who track Russian election interference.


China Is Winning The Ideological Battle With The U.S.

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Tuesday, July 23, 2019

I just spent a month in residence at Peking University in Beijing, meeting with dozens of government officials, entrepreneurs, scholars, think tankers and students. Here’s what I’ve concluded: The United States is losing the ideological battle with China.


Michael McFaul: Mueller Warned Russia Will Meddle In 2020

interview with Michael McFaulvia MSNBC
Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Trump administration continues to be dismissive of the warnings about Russia's continued interference in our political process ahead of the 2020 election. Michael McFaul and Malcolm Nance discuss.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump Needs To Stop Siding With Our Adversaries Against Other Americans

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Thankfully, the Cold War is over, and has little chance of returning: Neither Russia nor China will ever challenge us in the way the Soviet Union did. Yet our confrontation with an ideological and strategic superpower did produce some useful practices in the art of American diplomacy — norms that President Trump violated during his trip to Japan this week. It’s time we recall why our leaders once followed certain unspoken rules during the Cold War — and to consider re-adopting those same standards of behavior.


Putin Is Engaged In An Ideological Struggle, Says Former U.S. Ambassador To Russia

interview with Michael McFaulvia Bloomberg
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul discusses US relations with Russia, as well as Putin working to disrupt the west.

In the News

Former U.S. Ambassador To Russia Michael Mcfaul Says U.S. And Russia Are Not Natural Enemies

featuring Michael McFaulvia The Daily Northwestern
Friday, May 17, 2019
As long as Russian President Vladimir Putin is in power, U.S.-Russia relations will remain confrontational, former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Thursday.
In the News

Michael McFaul Discusses Montana, His First Trip Abroad And The Importance Of Empathy

featuring Michael McFaulvia Stanford News
Monday, May 6, 2019

Michael McFaul director of the Freeman Spogli Institute, recently talked about growing up in Montana, his experience living in Russia and the values that he hopes to instill in his children, as part of the Office of Religious Life’s “What Matters to Me and Why” speaker series. The series is designed to spark conversation between Stanford faculty, administrators and the larger university community on topics including values, beliefs and motivations.