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

Former Ambassador To Russia Will Speak At Carroll College Thursday

featuring Michael McFaulvia KPVI
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia, will present a community lecture entitled “From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin's Russia" Thursday at Carroll College. 

In the News

Understanding ‘Putin’s Playbook’

featuring Michael McFaulvia Medium
Monday, April 8, 2019

To thwart the effects of ‘Putinism,’ the American people must first understand the nature of the threat, Michael McFaul told the House Intelligence Committee.

Michael McFaul Testifies Before House Intelligence Committee

featuring Michael McFaulvia House Intelligence
Thursday, March 28, 2019

On March 28, 2019, Michael McFaul testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The hearing, "Putin’s Playbook: The Kremlin’s Use of Oligarchs, Money and Intelligence in 2016 and Beyond” included testimony by Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and Director of the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University.

In the News

Facebook Still Has A Content Problem—And It’s A Real Issue For Democracy

quoting Michael McFaulvia Observer
Thursday, March 28, 2019

White supremacists sharing content online is how other white supremacists become sufficiently radicalized to murder dozens of worshipers in a black church, a synagogue and a mosque.


Michael McFaul Testifies Before House Intelligence Committee

interview with Michael McFaulvia Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Thursday, March 28, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael McFaul testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at a hearing titled "Putin’s Playbook: The Kremlin’s Use of Oligarchs, Money and Intelligence in 2016 and Beyond."

A Century of Ideas: One Hundred Years of Democracy and Foreign Policy

interview with Condoleezza Rice, Stephen D. Krasner, Niall Ferguson, Michael McFaul
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The United States was founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and for decades, support for democracy around the world has been a central tenet of American foreign policy. The past century provides many examples of growth in successful democracies balanced with the instability of authoritarian and repressive regimes. This panel discussion will address the changing role of democratic governance in America’s foreign policy over the past century.


It’s Time To Secure The 2020 Election

by Michael McFaul, Alex Stamos, Ro Khannavia The Washington Post
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has completed his investigation of what happened regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. It is time now to pivot to addressing what needs to be done to prevent future meddling from Russia or any other foreign government.


Michael McFaul & Alex Stamos: How To Secure The 2020 Elections

interview with Michael McFaul, Alex Stamosvia MSNBC
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Hoover Institution fellows Michael McFaul and Alex Stamos discuss the Washington Post article they co-authored with Ro Khanna titled "It’s time to secure the 2020 election."

In the News

Media Takes Serious Hit From Mueller Conclusions

quoting Michael McFaulvia The Hill
Monday, March 25, 2019

The news media has taken a big hit from special counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion that no one in the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.

In the News

What Does The End Of The Mueller Investigation Mean For US-Russian Relations?

quoting Michael McFaulvia PRI.org
Monday, March 25, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between US President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, but left unresolved the issue of whether Trump obstructed justice by undermining the investigations that have dogged his presidency.