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Michael A. McFaul
Journal Articles

Putin, Putinism, and the Domestic Determinants of Russian Foreign Policy

Michael A. McFaul
International Security , 2020

Why did Russia's relations with the West shift from cooperation a few decades ago to a new era of confrontation today? Some explanations focus narrowly on changes in the balance of power in the international system, or trace historic parallels and cultural continuities in Russian international behavior. For a complete understanding of Russian foreign policy today, individuals, ideas, and institutions—President Vladimir Putin, Putinism, and autocracy—must be added to the analysis.

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White Papers

Global Populisms and Their Challenges

Anna Grzymala-Busse, Didi Kuo, Francis Fukuyama, Michael A. McFaul
2020

“Populism” has claimed enormous amounts of popular and press attention, with the Brexit vote of 2016, the election of President Donald J. Trump, and the rise of self-proclaimed populists in Europe and elsewhere. But what exactly is populism? And is populism in Poland the same phenomenon as in the United States? Does populism have the same set of universal causes, or are there many paths to populist resurgence?

“Global Populisms and Their Challenges” finds that established mainstream political parties are the key enablers of populist challenges—and the key solution.

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White Papers

Securing American Elections: Prescriptions for Enhancing the Integrity and Independence of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election and Beyond

Michael A. McFaul, Herbert Lin, Alex Stamos, Nathaniel Persily, Andrew Grotto, Allison Berke, Eileen Donahoe, Larry Diamond, Megan Metzger, Sergey Sanovich, Toomas Ilves, Zachary Krowitz, Christopher Painter
2019

This report urges policymakers, in both government and the private sector, to act immediately in order to protect the integrity and independence of U.S. elections, particularly in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, and recommends a number of actions in order to do so. This report was distributed at the launch of the new Cyber Policy Center on June 6th, 2019.

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Books

From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia

Michael A. McFaul
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , 2018

In 2008, when Michael McFaul was asked to leave his perch at Stanford and join an unlikely presidential campaign, he had no idea that he would find himself at the beating heart of one of today’s most contentious and consequential international relationships. As President Barack Obama’s adviser on Russian affairs, McFaul helped craft the United States’ policy known as “reset” that fostered new and unprecedented collaboration between the two countries. And then, as U.S.

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Commentary

Let’s get the facts right on foreign involvement in our elections

Michael A. McFaul
The Washington Post , 2017

President-elect Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election and will be the next president of the United States. As I have written before in these pages, the rules of the game for choosing our presidents need to be changed, but that discussion concerns future elections, not this past one. A win is a win.

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Commentary

Our allies are afraid. Here’s how Trump can reassure them.

Michael A. McFaul
The Washington Post , 2017

Around the world, our allies are worried. Here in South Korea, President-elect Donald Trump’s unexpected election victory has fueled a deep sense of uncertainty about the future of American leadership in Asia and the world. Government officials and foreign policy experts are scrutinizing every Trump utterance about South Korea, trade and security made during the campaign, and they don’t like what they find.

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Commentary

Trump’s weakness against Putin is on display — again

Michael A. McFaul
The Washington Post , 2017

I’m trying hard to keep an open mind about President Trump, but it closed just a little further yesterday after his flippant comments about expulsion of employees at U.S. diplomatic missions in Russia. In response to a question about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s outrageous demand to reduce U.S.

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Commentary

Why deciding to ‘move forward’ with Putin is a big mistake

Michael A. McFaul
The Washington Post , 2017

In his readout of the first meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised the desire of both presidents to forget about the past — and move on. Regarding Putin’s denial of interfering in our 2016 president elections, Tillerson stated, “I think what the two presidents, I think rightly, focused on is how do we move forward; how do we move forward from here. Because it’s not clear to me that we will ever come to some agreed-upon resolution of that question between the two nations.”

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Commentary

Is Trump learning — or ad-libbing — on foreign policy?

Michael A. McFaul
The Washington Post , 2017

In the month of April, I found myself saying “I agree with Trump” more than anytime ever. On China, Russia, NATO and Syria, President Trump signaled radical changes in policy, nearly the complete opposite of what he said as a candidate. All were changes for the good — that is, new policy positions that advance American security, prosperity and values. The lingering question is whether these recent statements signal a fundamental change in Trump’s thinking about foreign policy or rather short-term reversals that could be reversed again. Is he learning or ad-libbing?

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Commentary

The real winner of the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia

Michael A. McFaul
The Washington Post , 2017

After the vote results came in last November, many Russians close to the Kremlin celebrated. “Our Trump” — or #TrumpNash, as they tweeted — had been elected president of the United States... Of course, many factors combined to produce Trump’s victory, but Putin’s intervention most certainly played a contributing role.

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Commentary

Trump is right: The United States needs electoral reform

Michael A. McFaul
2017

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has claimed that the U.S. presidential election is rigged. In other countries where free and fairness of elections are suspect, political and societal leaders often call upon international short-term and long-term election monitors to observe their polls and render an assessment.

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Commentary

Allies First, Mr. President

Michael A. McFaul
Hoover Digest , 2017

Here’s how Donald Trump can reassure our alliesthatthe United States won’t abandon its friends.

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Commentary

Dear Trump: Defending democracy is no vice

Michael A. McFaul
The Washington Post , 2017

For decades, American presidents have used their inaugural addresses to celebrate the values of freedom. At his inauguration on Friday, President Donald Trump will take to the podium to declare his aims for his next four years in office. Will he have anything to say about the importance of freedom? 

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Journal Articles

How Trump Can Play Nice With Russia, Without Selling Out America

Michael A. McFaul
Foreign Policy , 2017

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump was a whirlwind of vagaries and contradictions when it came to foreign policy, making it difficult to predict how his new administration will approach dozens of international issues. On Russia, however, he was clear and consistent.

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Commentary

America needs to play both the short and long game in cybersecurity

Michael A. McFaul, Amy Zegart
The Washington Post , 2016

In his last news conference of the year (and maybe last ever as president) last week, President Obama squarely assigned blame to the Russian government for stealing data from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, with the intent of disrupting our electoral process and helping one candidate, President-elect Donald Trump. Obama also promised to respond but left out details about how and when.

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Commentary

Peace as Cold as Siberia

Michael A. McFaul
Hoover Digest , 2016

Relations between the United States and Russia today are more strained and confrontational than at any time since the end of the Cold War. In fact, even some periods of the Cold War seemed more cooperative than our current era. For the first time since the end of World War II, a European country has annexed territory of a neighbor. Emboldened by the relative ease of Crimea’s annexation, Vladi-mir Putin then went a step further and intervened in eastern Ukraine in an attempt to wrestle more territory away from Kiev’s control.

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Commentary

McFaul on Europe, Russia, China, and the Middle East

Michael A. McFaul, Michael A. McFaul
Stanford Political Journal , 2016

Michael McFaul discusses Europe, Russia, China, the Middle East with the Stanford Political Journal.

Read full interview at the Stanford Political Journal.

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Commentary

Can America and Russia Cooperate in Syria?

Michael A. McFaul, Michael A. McFaul
The Moscow Times , 2016

President Vladimir Putin's decision to intervene in Syria marked a major turning point in Russian foreign policy in 2015. Over the last 15 years, Putin has increasingly relied on the use of military power to achieve his domestic and foreign-policy objectives, starting with the invasion of Chechnya in 1999, then of Georgia in 2008, and then of Ukraine in 2014. Putin's Syria gambit was the logical, if dramatic, next step in Russia's increasingly aggressive foreign policy.

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Commentary

Where the 2016 Republicans Split from Ronald Reagan

Michael A. McFaul, Michael A. McFaul
The Wall Street Journal Blog , 2015

During the Republican primary debate held at the Ronald Reagan library in September, presidential candidates struggled to outdo each other in their admiration for and affinity with President Reagan. During the December 15 debate, however, everyone except Sen. Marco Rubio seemed to have rejected Ronald Reagan’s approach to foreign policy and national security. In particular, there was a serious debate about democracy promotion abroad and regime change. Most candidates came down against both.

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Books

Transitions to Democracy: A Comparative Perspective

Kathryn Stoner, Michael A. McFaul, Beatriz Magaloni, Abbas Milani, Gregory Domber, Ray Jennings
The Johns Hopkins University Press , 2013

As demonstrated by current events in Tunisia and Egypt, oppressive regimes are rarely immune to their citizens’ desire for democratic government. Of course, desire is always tempered by reality; therefore how democratic demands are made manifest is a critical source of study for both political scientists and foreign policy makers. What issues and consequences surround the fall of a government, what type of regime replaces it, and to what extent are these efforts successful?

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Books

Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Postcommunist World

Michael A. McFaul, Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, Valerie Bunce
Cambridge University Press , 2009

This volume brings together a distinguished group of scholars working on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to examine in depth three waves of democratic change that took place in eleven different former Communist nations. Its essays draw important conclusions about the rise, development, and breakdown of both democracy and dictatorship in each country and together provide a rich comparative perspective on the post-Communist world.

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Books

Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can

Michael A. McFaul
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers , 2009

After eight years of President Bush's trumpeting the virtues of promoting freedom and democracy abroad but achieving limited results, many Americans have grown suspicious of democratic development as a goal of American foreign policy. As a new administration reviews the role democratization will play in its foreign policy, distinguished Stanford University political scientist, Hoover Institution senior fellow, and former Director of CDDRL Michael McFaul calls for a reaffirmation of democracy's advance as a goal of U.S. foreign policy and sets out a radically new course to achieve it.

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Books

Promoting Democracy and the Rule of Law: American and European Strategies

Amichai Magen, Thomas Risse, Michael A. McFaul
Palgrave Macmillan , 2009

European and American experts systematically compare U.S. and EU strategies to promote democracy around the world -- from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, to Latin America, the former Soviet bloc, and Southeast Asia. In doing so, the authors debunk the pernicious myth that there exists a transatlantic divide over democracy promotion.

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Books

Promoting Democracy and the Rule of Law: American and European Strategies (Governance and Limited Statehood)

Amichai Magen, Michael A. McFaul, Thomas Risse
Palgrave McMillan Press , 2009

European and American experts systematically compare U.S. and EU strategies to promote democracy around the world -- from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, to Latin America, the former Soviet bloc, and Southeast Asia. In doing so, the authors debunk the pernicious myth that there exists a transatlantic divide over democracy promotion.

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