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, 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

Featured

The Right Way To Manage Nuclear Competition With Russia

by Michael McFaul, Jon Wolfsthalvia The Washington Post
Monday, February 5, 2018

Vladimir Putin is no friend of the United States. The Russian president seeks to undermine many core interests of the United States, our allies, and our partners. In 2014, Putin annexed territory in Europe, seizing control of Crimea, and then intervened in eastern Ukraine, sparking a war during which more than 10,000 people have died.

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Cyber Invaders

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 26, 2018

We still don’t know how deeply Russia interfered in US elections, but we do know how to make it harder for the Russians to interfere next time.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Ignoring Trump’s Words Is A Luxury That Diplomats Can’t Afford

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Friday, January 19, 2018

On Inauguration Day last year, many predicted that President Trump would abandon his bombastic campaign rhetoric and start behaving like a more conventional leader, especially as far as national security issues were concerned. Conventional wisdom assumed that all presidents make the transition from candidate to commander-in-chief. One year later, this week’s barrage of scandals have made it clear yet again that he is not going to change.

Featured

Putin Is To Blame For The Tragedy Of Russia’s Olympics Ban

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Thursday, December 7, 2017

Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced a shocking decision to ban Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, due to Russia’s “systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules.” The public reaction to this decision – by government officials and public commentators, and on my Twitter feed — was very polarized.

Analysis and Commentary

Russian Ambassador Antonov Visits Stanford: Why That’s A Good Thing

by Michael McFaulvia Freeman Spogli Institute News
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Last week, I hosted the new Russian Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford University. The previous year, I had hosted his predecessor, Sergey Kislyak, for a private discussion and public talk at Stanford as well. This time, however, the public reaction to my acknowledging this normal activity of our institute and our university generated all sorts of negative and suspicious commentary.

Featured

China Has Arrived. That Doesn’t Mean It Should Dismiss The United States.

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Friday, November 17, 2017

That China is rising hardly counts as news. For years now, Beijing has been steadily expanding its economic and military power. Yet for most of that time, Chinese leaders deliberately downplayed their growing clout, preferring instead to try to avoid engaging in great-power politics while focusing on domestic development.

Analysis and Commentary

For The Good Of America, Trump Needs To Learn The Art Of Diplomacy

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Monday, November 6, 2017

While President Trump works his way through several countries on his extensive trip in Asia, he is scheduled to hold several “meet-and-greets” with diplomats and other Americans working at our embassies in the region.

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Enough Is Enough: How To Stop Russia’s Cyber-Interference

by Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Thursday, September 28, 2017

Congressional and Justice Department investigations, as well as terrific investigative reporting over the last year, have revealed the comprehensive scale of Russia’s violation of our sovereignty. This was done not by crossing physical borders but by invading multiple virtual boundaries.

Featured

Between ‘Appeasement’ And War, There Is A Third Way On North Korea

by Michael McFaulvia Global Times
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Unfortunately, like many national security debates these days, our national discussion about how to address the growing North Korean threat has quickly become polarized between two extreme positions. In one corner, President Donald Trump has threatened a preemptive military strike in response to new threats from the North Korean regime. In reaction, Trump opponents have advocated the exact opposite - talks with Kim Jong-un.

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Cold War Lessons In Coercive Diplomacy For Dealing With North Korea Today

by Michael McFaulvia Medium
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Unfortunately, like many national security debates these days, our national discussion about how to address the growing North Korean threat has quickly become polarized between two extreme positions. In one corner, President Trump has threatened a preemptive military strike in response (I’m paraphrasing his remarks into more analytic terms) to new threats from the North Korean regime.

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