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

After The Cold War, An Uncertain Peace

featuring Michael McFaulvia MIT News
Monday, March 18, 2019

In MIT talk, Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, explores tensions between the two countries.

In the News

Your Must-Read Books By Former U.S. Ambassadors

featuring Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Friday, March 15, 2019

The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts is off to Moscow yet again this week as part of the Fletcher School’s Russia and Eurasia program. Even though winter is ending, I suspect it will not feel like spring in Moscow, either meteorologically or politically. I know this because, well, that’s what I do. Smart readers should not take my word for it, however. They should take the word of two recent books by two former U.S. ambassadors to Russia that have just been published. It seems fitting, to recommend them today.

In the News

“From Cold War To Hot Peace: An Ambassador In Putin’s Russia,” A Book Talk For Educators By Ambassador Michael Mcfaul

featuring Michael McFaulvia Stanford Program On International And Cross-Cultural Education
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Ambassador McFaul has described From Cold War to Hot Peace as “three books in one.”
In the News

“It Can Happen To Anyone.” American Investors And Politicians Refuse To Participate In St.Petersburg International Economic Forum Due To Case Against Calvey

quoting Michael McFaulvia Crime Russia
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Representatives of American companies and officials are intent to boycott St.Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in June, 2019, as a mark of protest against arrest of a founder of investment fund Baring Vostok - the U.S. Citizen Michael Calvey.

In the News

Why The 'Reset' Didn't Last

quoting Michael McFaulvia Russia Matters
Friday, March 8, 2019
Ten years ago this week, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed up on Vice President Joe Biden’s proposed “reset” in relations with Moscow by giving her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, a symbolic red button marked “RESET.” While the English version of the word was correct, the Russian, famously, was not, saying “OVERLOAD” instead, due to two missing letters. The misspelling proved to be a bad omen: Within a few years, the relatively low-hanging fruit available to policymakers on both sides had been picked and relations soured again quickly.
Analysis and Commentary

Michael McFaul: Trump’s Puzzling Iran-North Korea Divide

by Michael McFaulvia Akron Beacon Journal
Tuesday, March 5, 2019

For years now, President Donald Trump and his administration have been advancing a fundamentally illogical contradiction in their nuclear diplomacy toward Iran and North Korea. In both cases, the stated public goal of Trump administration policy is the same: denuclearization. Yet the strategies for achieving this worthwhile U.S. national security objective are diametrically opposed depending on the country in question.

In the News

McFaul Urges US Businessmen To Leave Russia After Calvey's Arrest

quoting Michael McFaulvia Crime Russia
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
According to the diplomat, the charges against Calvey prove that the Russian authorities "are not afraid to arrest anyone."
In the News

Former Partner Of Maria Butina, NRA-Linked Russian Agent, Indicted

quoting Michael McFaulvia Salon
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Paul Erickson, the Republican operative best known for his romantic relationship with convicted Russian agent Maria Butina, has been indicted on unrelated charges.
In the News

Autocracies That Look Like Democracies Are A Threat Across The Globe

quoting Michael McFaulvia The Conversation
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Russia’s successful interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election may inspire other countries to do the same. These other countries don’t look threatening. They look like democracies. But they’re not.

In the News

The Unquiet American

featuring Michael McFaulvia The American Interest
Monday, February 4, 2019

Michael McFaul’s memoir throws into sharp relief the failures of America’s Russia policy.