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FSI scholars offer expert analysis and commentary on contemporary global issues.



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Michael A. McFaul
Chito Gascón

Remembering Chito Gascón

News / October 12, 2021
A member of the inaugural Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program cohort in 2005, Chito died from COVID-19 on October 9, 2021.
Oleksiy Honcharuk

Oleksiy Honcharuk Appointed the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow

News / October 7, 2021
Honcharuk, formerly the prime minister of Ukraine, will focus on examining what Western allies can do to support Ukraine in its struggle to thrive as a democracy in Eastern Europe while at Stanford.
Screenshot of Draper Hills 2021 opening session

Global Democracy Leaders Gather Virtually for the 2021 Draper Hills Summer Fellowship

News / August 18, 2021
For the next two weeks, Fellows will participate in workshops led by an interdisciplinary team of faculty to study new theories and approaches to democratic development.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya discusses the future of democracy in Belarus with a roundtable of Stanford scholars.

Belarusian Leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Meets with Stanford Scholars for Roundtable on Democracy in Belarus

News / August 4, 2021
Democratic leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and her delegation joined an interdisciplinary panel of Stanford scholars and members of the Belarusian community to discuss the future of democracy in...
Flags of the United States and Russia

Stanford Experts Weigh In on What to Expect at the Biden-Putin Summit

News / June 14, 2021
Scholars at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies hope that President Joe Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin will lay the groundwork for negotiations in the near...
Joe Biden in the Rose Garden

Biden’s Foreign Policy: What We Can Expect for China, Russia and Iran

News / March 17, 2021
On the World Class Podcast, experts discuss how the Biden Administration should navigate three of America’s most challenging bilateral relationships.
storming of capital 2021

To Support Democracy Abroad, the U.S. Needs To Set Its Own House In Order, says FSI Director Michael McFaul

News / January 14, 2021
Former U.S. ambassador to Russia and Stanford political scientist Michael McFaul recommends that the incoming Biden administration “go big” in its efforts to reaffirm core democratic values –...

McFaul: Can America and Russia Cooperate in Syria?

Commentary / January 6, 2016

President Vladimir Putin's decision to intervene in Syria marked a major turning point in Russian foreign policy in 2015. FSI Director and former U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation Michael McFaul argues that in the long run, Russia could become a partner in the global fight against terrorism. And, in principle, the U.S., the EU, and countries around the world should welcome Russian cooperation in this mission.

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McFaul on 'Twitter diplomacy'

News / October 2, 2014

FSI Senior Fellow Michael McFaul speaks with BBC World Tonight on his use of 'Twitter diplomacy' as an instrumental tool during his time as U.S. Ambassador to Russia. McFaul made an exerted effort to interact with the Russian populace young and old via social media, which sparked some criticism from the Russian government. 

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FSI's Mike McFaul on the 'judo master' in the Kremlin

Commentary / August 5, 2014
Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute, is featured in this week's New Yorker magazine and writes in this Politico piece that Russia's President Vladimir Putin sees a path to glory that does not involve democratic governance and ignores international norms.
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CISAC experts command airwaves as Obama rolls out nuclear agenda

News / April 13, 2010
With the release of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the signing of the new START Treaty and President Obama's Nuclear Security Summit, it's been a memorable time for CISAC's security experts, many of whom played prominent as well as behind-the-scenes roles in negotiations related to these events, as ongoing news coverage reveals.
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CISAC goes to Washington

News / October 7, 2009
CISAC may be geographically distant from Washington, DC, but its influence inside the Beltway has been underscored by five scholars now serving in the Obama administration. Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, Michael McFaul, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Paul Stockton and Jeremy Weinstein have all been closely affiliated with the center.
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Russia expert appointed to national security posts

News / February 20, 2009
Stanford political science Professor Michael McFaul has been tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as special assistant to the president for National Security Affairs and senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs at the National Security Council.
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Russia expert Michael McFaul appointed to senior national security posts

News / February 19, 2009
Political science Professor Michael McFaul, former deputy director of FSI and director of its Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, has been tapped by President Obama to serve as special assistant to the president for National Security Affairs and senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs at the National Security Council.
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The myth of the authoritarian model: How Putin's crackdown holds Russia back

Commentary / September 24, 2008
The conventional explanation for Vladimir Putin's popularity is straightforward. In the 1990s, under post-Soviet Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin, the state did not govern, the economy shrank, and the population suffered. Since 2000, under Putin, order has returned, the economy has flourished, and the average Russian is living better than ever before. As political freedom has decreased, economic growth has increased. Putin may have rolled back democratic gains, the story goes, but these were necessary sacrifices on the altar of stability and growth.
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McFaul part of Carnegie Endowment panel on Russia's 'over-managed democracy'

News / May 18, 2008
On May 5 a panel of Russia experts including CDDRL Director Michael McFaul presented analysis of the current state of Russia's political and economic development and the likelihood of continuity or change in Dmitry Medvedev's first term as president of Russia. The panel, which was was held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., included McFaul and scholars-in-residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center Nikolay Petrov and Maria Lipman, and was moderated by Thomas Carothers.
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McFaul, Stoner-Weiss editorial on the "myth of Putin's success" in IHT

Commentary / December 13, 2007
Vladimir Putin's designation of Dmitri Medvedev as his preferred successor should be more than enough for Medvedev to win the March presidential election in Russia by a landslide. Not surprisingly, he has already pledged to continue his mentor's policies and suggested that Putin become prime minister to ensure his continued involvement in ruling Russia.
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FSI's Michael McFaul and Larry Diamond "Tops" for Stanford Students

News / August 1, 2007
The Stanford alumni association announced in May the selection of CDDRL Director Michael McFaul as the 2007 Class Day speaker. Hoover Institution senior fellow and CDDRL democracy program coordinator Larry Diamond was selected as Teacher of the Year by the Associated Students of Stanford University and honored during Commencement Weekend with the Dinkelspiel Award for Distinctive Contributions to Undergraduate Education.
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Inside Iran's Fractured Regime

Commentary / June 25, 2006
For weeks, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has insisted that there are no fissures in the Iranian regime. Any allegations of such tensions are simply part of a U.S. propaganda war against Tehran, he declared. But then last Monday, at what was billed as a "unity lunch," Khamenei asked 28 of the country's most powerful leaders -- mostly mullahs -- to put aside their differences and coalesce around a single cause: preserving the system.
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End of Partnership

Commentary / May 11, 2006
U.S. Vice President criticized the policy of Russian authorities for cutting back civil rights and blackmailing its neighbors in his characteristically harsh manner. Kremlin sources referred to his speech as poorly informed and not objective. Others, both in Moscow and in the West, called it a return to the Cold War. Some denied that the vice president's speech represented the actual intentions of the Bush administration. Maybe all of those statements are nothing more than propaganda. But it is more likely that reflect a deep lack of understanding of American foreign policy and its foreign policy culture.
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Ukraine's Victors

Commentary / March 29, 2006
Since the 2004 Orange Revolution, most of the news from Ukraine has emphasized the failures of the "revolutionaries." President Viktor Yushchenko and his first prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, could not sustain the economic growth rates seen under the pre-Orange government. Analysts in Moscow, London, Kiev and Washington blamed Ms. Tymoshenko's alleged populism for declining exports and depressed investment. Mr. Yushchenko looked like a feckless leader who was then tainted with charges of corruption over a gas deal between Russia and Ukraine, which delivered windfall profits to a mysterious company in Switzerland.
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Ukraine's Democracy Has a Lot of Life Yet

Commentary / March 24, 2006
As Ukrainians prepare to vote on Sunday for the first time since the Orange Revolution, few are remembering fondly their last trip to the ballot box. The revolution has disappointed; expectations have gone unmet.
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A Checking Account for Democracy

Commentary / March 6, 2006
By committing to spend $85 million to promote democracy in Iran in the next fiscal year, the Bush administration has signaled a major escalation of its efforts to challenge autocracy in Tehran. At the level of grand strategy, this major policy revision should be welcomed and supported. On principle, the U.S. should support the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people. For reasons of national security, Washington also has an interest in promoting democracy in Iran, as a democratic regime in Tehran would not threaten the U.S. or its allies and could serve as a powerful force for stability in the region.
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Gas Wars

Commentary / March 1, 2006
For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the year 2006 was to mark Russia's return as a major power in international politics. Remember, for most of the twentieth century, the Soviet Union enjoyed superpower status because of its army, its nuclear weapons, and its communist ideology. For those living in the free world or under Soviet subjugation, these were all coercive assets. The Soviet Union held the world's attention out of fear, not respect. After a tumultuous decade of transition in the 1990s, which marginalized Russia as an international actor, Putin aspires to return Russia to its great-power status, not because of its army, ideology, or even nuclear weapons but because of its oil and gas.
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