Michael A. McFaul

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Michael A. McFaul, PhD

  • Director, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
  • Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies, Department of Political Science
  • Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Encina Hall 616 Jane Stanford Way Stanford, CA 94305-6055


Michael McFaul is Director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies in the Department of Political Science, and the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995.

Dr. McFaul also is as an International Affairs Analyst for NBC News and a columnist for The Washington Post. He served for five years in the Obama administration, first as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House (2009-2012), and then as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2012-2014).

He has authored several books, most recently the New York Times bestseller From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia. Earlier books include Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should, How We Can; Transitions To Democracy: A Comparative Perspective (eds. with Kathryn Stoner); Power and Purpose: American Policy toward Russia after the Cold War (with James Goldgeier); and Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin.

His current research interests include American foreign policy, great power relations, and the relationship between democracy and development. Dr. McFaul was born and raised in Montana. He received his B.A. in International Relations and Slavic Languages and his M.A. in Soviet and East European Studies from Stanford University in 1986. As a Rhodes Scholar, he completed his D. Phil. in International Relations at Oxford University in 1991. He is currently writing a book on great power relations in the 21st century.



Current research

In The News

Flags of the United States and Russia

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

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 future, particularly around nuclear weapons.
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McFaul: Can America and Russia Cooperate in Syria?

President Vladimir Putin's decision to intervene in Syria marked a major turning point in 

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McFaul on 'Twitter diplomacy'

FSI Senior Fellow Michael McFaul speaks with BBC World Tonight on his use of 'Twitter


World Class · A Democracy Activist Explains Georgia's Current Political Crisis and Turbulent History