Richard F. Staar

Senior Fellow, Emeritus

Richard F. Staar passed away on March 27, 2018.  He was a senior fellow, emeritus at the Hoover Institution. He served as US ambassador to the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) negotiations in Vienna, Austria. His areas of specialization included the Federation of Russia and East-Central Europe, military strategy, national security, arms control, and public diplomacy.

Staar's publications included The New Military in Russia: Ten Myths That Shape the Image (Naval Institute Press, 1996); Transition to Democracy in Poland (St. Martin's Press, revised edition 1998); and Born Under a Lucky Star (University Press of America, 2002).

His best-selling text Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe (5th revised edition, 1988), adopted by 251 colleges and universities, was issued to incoming US foreign service officers and has been translated into four languages. Soviet Military Policy since World War II, coauthored with William T. Lee, was published in 1986 and translated into Chinese. An earlier volume, Poland, 1944–1962: Sovietization of a Captive People, has been reprinted by Greenwood Press.

In addition, Staar served as editor in chief of the Yearbook on International Communist Affairs from 1969 to 1991. He contributed to and edited Aspects of Modern Communism as well as Arms Control: Myth versus Reality (reprinted in paperback, 1988).

He served on the editorial boards of Orbis and Mediterranean Quarterly. He has been a consultant to the Department of Defense; the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (1983–87); and Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico (1991–92).

Staar held membership in the following: American Association for Advancement of Slavic Studies, American Political Science Association, and International Studies Association.

He evaluated applications for grants to the National Endowment for the Humanities; served on the International Research and Exchanges Board selection committee for American scholars to do research in the Baltic countries and the Commonwealth of Independent States during 1990–92; and chaired the US Department of State–administered Title VIII (Research and Training Act, Public Law 98–164) selection committee at the Hoover Institution from 1984 to 1997.

Staar was proficient in several languages and served as interpreter for Alexander Solzhenitsyn when the Nobel laureate visited the Hoover Institution on two occasions.

His training and background included academic and government work: research specialist for the State Department; chairman of the political science department at Emory University; visiting professor at the National War College; and chief of mission to MBFR, with ambassadorial rank.

He lectured in eighteen foreign countries and achieved the rank of colonel (06) in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He was awarded the presidential Legion of Merit in 1983.

Staar received an AB degree with Phi Beta Kappa distinction from Dickinson College, an AM from Yale University, and a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan. Dickinson awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1998.

During 1997–99 he served as visiting research professor of international relations at Boston University as well as associate at the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University. In 1999 and 2000, Staar taught as a visiting professor of political science at Duquesne University. Staar has served as a distinguished visiting professor of political science at San Jose State University since 2003.

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Recent Commentary

Reflections on the Recent Past: The Framers and Modern-Day Heresies

by Richard F. Staarvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Former independent counsel Kenneth Starr reflects on the lessons to be learned from his investigation of the president.

A Tsar Is Born

by Richard F. Staarvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, July 30, 2000

What can the West expect from Vladimir Putin? Trouble. By Hoover fellow Richard F. Staar.

Toxic Alert in Russia

by Richard F. Staarvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 30, 1998

The United States is about to pour money into Russian toxic weapons labs. The intention? Converting the labs to peacetime purposes. At least that's the American intention. The Russians may have other ideas. By Hoover fellow Richard Staar.

The Bear Sharpens Its Claws

by Richard F. Staarvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, October 30, 1997

As a proportion of Russia's overall budget, defense has been shrinking steadily in recent years. Or has it? Hoover fellow Richard F. Staar argues that Russia has actually more than doubled its spending on one aspect of defense, research and development.

Russia and the Islamic States of the Mideast

by Richard F. Staarvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 30, 1997

In its dealings with the Mideast, Russia has dusted off a few of the old Soviet foreign policy tools, including arms shipments and outrageous anti-American propaganda. An analysis by Hoover fellow Richard F. Staar.

How the Mob Rules Russia

by Richard F. Staarvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 30, 1997

Responsible sources estimate that two-fifths of the Russian economy is already in the hands of organized crime. Hoover fellow Richard F. Staar explains how the mob runs entire regions of the biggest country on earth-and exerts influence in the Kremlin itself.

When Russians Behave Like Soviets

by Richard F. Staarvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

The United States gives Russia billions in aid every year, subject to certain important conditions, including the condition that the Russians demilitarize. The Russians keep on violating the conditions-and we keep on giving them more money. By Hoover fellow Richard F. Staar.

Boris Yeltsin's Bellicose Backers

by Richard F. Staarvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 1996

Is the United States financing the very Russians who want to start a new cold war? Hoover fellow Richard F. Staar thinks it might be.

A Brutal Debacle

by Richard F. Staarvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 1996

Hoover fellow Richard F. Staar portrays the 1994-1996 war that mighty Russia has waged on tiny Chechnya, a breakaway ethnic enclave on Russia's southern flank. This conflict has claimed some forty thousand civilian lives--and it continues to fester.


Yearbook on International Communist Affairs, 1991: 25th edition

via Hoover Institution Press
Sunday, September 1, 1991

"With this volume, we celebrate a quarter century of the Yearbook and its 25th consecutive volume. Over the years the Yearbook has chronicled the domestic and international activities of nonruling communist parties, national liberation movements, and ruling parties that regard Moscow or Beijing as their guiding lights. This past year we have continued to trace the momentous changes and subsequent metamorphoses of various communist parties into quasi-democratic, self-proclaimed socialist movements or loose federations.

Born Under a Lucky Star: Reminiscences

Born Under a Lucky Star: Reminiscences, Staar's most recent book.