Bio


Michael McFaul is professor of political science, director and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Affairs, and the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995. He also works as an analyst for NBC News. He also 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 including Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should, How We Can; with Kathryn Stoner, Transitions To Democracy: A Comparative Perspective; with James Goldgeier, Power and Purpose: American Policy toward Russia after the Cold War; 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.

Administrative Appointments


  • Chair, Curriculum Committee, Department of Political Science (2001 - 2004)
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Political Science (2001 - 2004)
  • Co-director, Iran Democracy Project, Hoover Institution (2003 - 2009)
  • Director, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (2006 - 2009)
  • Deputy Director, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (2006 - 2009)
  • Director, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (2015 - Present)

Professional Education


  • Ph.D., Oxford University, International Relations (1991)
  • M.A., Stanford University, Russian and East European Studies (1986)
  • B.A., Stanford University, International Relations and Slavic Languages (1986)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


American foreign policy, great power relations, and the relationship between democracy and development

2019-20 Courses


Stanford Advisees


  • Doctoral Dissertation Reader (AC)
    Alice Underwood

All Publications


  • Reading Reagan in Tehran: A Strategy of Realistic Engagement WASHINGTON QUARTERLY McFaul, M., Milani, A. 2016; 39 (4): 145-163
  • Who Lost Russia (This Time)? Vladimir Putin WASHINGTON QUARTERLY Stoner, K., McFaul, M. 2015; 38 (2): 167-187
  • The myth of the authoritarian model - How Putin's crackdown holds Russia back FOREIGN AFFAIRS McFaul, M., Stoner-Weiss, K. 2008; 87 (1): 68-?
  • The limits of limited reforms JOURNAL OF DEMOCRACY McFaul, M., Wittes, T. C. 2008; 19 (1): 19-33
  • Ukraine imports democracy - External influences on the orange revolutione INTERNATIONAL SECURITY McFaul, M. 2007; 32 (2): 45-83
  • Electing to flight: Why emerging democracies go to war. (Book Review) JOURNAL OF DEMOCRACY Book Review Authored by: McFaul, M. 2007; 18 (2): 160-167
  • Constructing self-enforcing federalism in the early United States and modern Russia PUBLIUS-THE JOURNAL OF FEDERALISM de Figueiredo, R. J., McFaul, M., Weingast, B. R. 2007; 37 (2): 160-189
  • Virtual politics: Faking democracy in the post-Soviet world. (Book Review) SLAVIC REVIEW Book Review Authored by: McFaul, M. 2007; 66 (1): 167-168
  • Should democracy be promoted or demoted? WASHINGTON QUARTERLY Fukuyama, F., McFaul, M. 2007; 31 (1): 23-45
  • Engaging autocratic allies to promote democracy WASHINGTON QUARTERLY Adesnik, D., McFaul, M. 2006; 29 (2): 7-?
  • A win-win US strategy for dealing with Iran WASHINGTON QUARTERLY McFaul, M., Milani, A., Diamond, L. 2006; 30 (1): 121-138
  • What to do about Russia POLICY REVIEW Goldgeier, J. M., McFaul, M. 2005: 45-62
  • Chinese dreams, Persian realities JOURNAL OF DEMOCRACY McFaul, M. 2005; 16 (4): 74-82
  • Transitions from postcommunism JOURNAL OF DEMOCRACY McFaul, M. 2005; 16 (3): 5-19
  • A transatlantic strategy to promote democratic development in the broader Middle East WASHINGTON QUARTERLY Asmus, R. D., Diamond, L., Leonard, M., McFaul, M. 2005; 28 (2): 7-21
  • Democracy promotion as a world value WASHINGTON QUARTERLY McFaul, M. 2005; 28 (1): 147-163
  • Putin and the "delegative democracy" trap: Evidence from Russia's 2003-04 elections POST-SOVIET AFFAIRS HALE, H. E., McFaul, M., Colton, T. J. 2004; 20 (4): 285-319
  • The next Transatlantic project - Promoting democracy from North Africa to Afghanistan INTERNATIONALE POLITIK AHLIN, U., Asmus, R., Everts, S., Hybaskova, J., Leonard, M., McFaul, M., Mertes, M. 2004; 59 (4): 84-88
  • Gorbachev and Yeltsin as leaders. (Book Review) SLAVIC REVIEW Book Review Authored by: McFaul, M. 2004; 63 (1): 200-201
  • The evolving social science of postcommunism - Introduction Conference on Ten Years Since the Collapse of the Soviet Union - Comparative Lessons and Perspective McFaul, M., Stoner-Weiss, K. CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS. 2004: 1–20
  • Russians as joiners: Realist and liberal conceptions of postcommunist europe Conference on Ten Years Since the Collapse of the Soviet Union - Comparative Lessons and Perspective Goldgeier, J. M., McFaul, M. CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS. 2004: 232–256
  • The fourth wave of democracy and dictatorship: Noncooperative transitions in the postcommunist world Conference on Ten Years Since the Collapse of the Soviet Union - Comparative Lessons and Perspective McFaul, M. CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS. 2004: 58–95
  • Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Post-Communist Political Reform McFaul, M., Petrov, N., Ryabov, A. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 2004
  • Russian democracy under Putin PROBLEMS OF POST-COMMUNISM Colton, T. J., McFaul, M. 2003; 50 (4): 12-21
  • Popular Choice and Managed Democracy: The Russian Elections of 1999 and 2000 Colton, T., McFaul Michael 2003
  • Power and Purpose: American Policy toward Russia after the Cold War Goldgeier, J., McFaul, M. Brookings Institution Press. 2003
  • Are Russians undemocratic? POST-SOVIET AFFAIRS Colton, T. J., McFaul, M. 2002; 18 (2): 91-121
  • The liberty doctrine - Reclaiming the purpose of American power POLICY REVIEW McFaul, M. 2002: 3-22
  • The fourth wave of democracy and dictatorship - Noncooperative transitions in the postcommunist world WORLD POLITICS McFaul, M. 2002; 54 (2): 212-?
  • Taliban: Militant Islam, oil, and fundamentalism in central Asia. (Book Review) JOURNAL OF DEMOCRACY Book Review Authored by: McFaul, M. 2002; 13 (1): 170-175
  • Explaining party formation and nonformation in Russia - Actors, institutions, and chance COMPARATIVE POLITICAL STUDIES McFaul, M. 2001; 34 (10): 1159-1187
  • America's real Russian allies FOREIGN AFFAIRS Colton, T. J., McFaul, M. 2001; 80 (6): 46-58
  • Realistic engagement: A new approach to American-Russian relations CURRENT HISTORY McFaul, M. 2001; 100 (648): 313-321
  • Elections and voters in post-Communist Russia (Book Review) SLAVIC REVIEW Book Review Authored by: McFaul, M. 2001; 60 (1): 191-192
  • Putin in power CURRENT HISTORY McFaul, M. 2000; 99 (639): 307-314
  • Reinventing Russia's party of power: "Unity" and the 1999 Duma election POST-SOVIET AFFAIRS Colton, T. J., McFaul, M. 2000; 16 (3): 201-224
  • One step forward, two steps back JOURNAL OF DEMOCRACY McFaul, M. 2000; 11 (3): 19-?
  • Russian democracy: Still not a lost cause WASHINGTON QUARTERLY McFaul, M. 2000; 23 (1): 161-172
  • Authoritarian and democratic responses to the financial meltdown in Russia PROBLEMS OF POST-COMMUNISM McFaul, M. 1999; 46 (4): 22-32
  • The perils of a protracted transition JOURNAL OF DEMOCRACY McFaul, M. 1999; 10 (2): 4-18
  • The rebirth of politics in Russia. (Book Review) AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY Book Review Authored by: McFaul, M. 1999; 104 (5): 1587-1589
  • Getting Russia right FOREIGN POLICY McFaul, M. 1999: 58-73
  • Russia's summer of discontent CURRENT HISTORY McFaul, M. 1998; 97 (621): 307-312
  • Russia's 'Privatized' state as an impediment to democratic consolidation - Part II SECURITY DIALOGUE McFaul, M. 1998; 29 (3): 315-332
  • Russia's 'privatized' state as an impediment to democratic consolidation part I SECURITY DIALOGUE McFaul, M. 1998; 29 (2): 191-199
  • Transition to democracy in Eastern Europe (Book Review) SLAVIC REVIEW Book Review Authored by: McFaul, M. 1998; 57 (1): 174-175
  • A precarious peace - Domestic politics in the making of Russian foreign policy INTERNATIONAL SECURITY McFaul, M. 1998; 22 (3): 5-35
  • Russian electoral politics after transition: Regional and national assessments POST-SOVIET GEOGRAPHY AND ECONOMICS McFaul, M., Petrov, N. 1997; 38 (9): 507-549
  • Russia's 1996 presidential elections POST-SOVIET AFFAIRS McFaul, M. 1996; 12 (4): 318-350
  • The allocation of property rights in Russia: The first round COMMUNIST AND POST-COMMUNIST STUDIES McFaul, M. 1996; 29 (3): 287-308
  • Russia between elections .1. The vanishing center JOURNAL OF DEMOCRACY McFaul, M. 1996; 7 (2): 90-104
  • Revolutionary ideas, state interests, and Russian foreign policy Workshop on Political Cultural and Civil Society in Russia McFaul, M. M E SHARPE INC. 1995: 27–52
  • STATE POWER, INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE, AND THE POLITICS OF PRIVATIZATION IN RUSSIA WORLD POLITICS McFaul, M. 1995; 47 (2): 210-243
  • WHY ZHIRINOVSKY CAN WIN - NUT N HONEY NEW REPUBLIC McFaul, M. 1994; 210 (7): 23-?
  • RUSSIAN CENTRISM AND REVOLUTIONARY TRANSITIONS POST-SOVIET AFFAIRS McFaul, M. 1993; 9 (3): 192-222
  • A TALE OF 2 WORLDS - CORE AND PERIPHERY IN THE POST-COLD-WAR ERA INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION Goldgeier, J. M., McFaul, M. 1992; 46 (2): 467-491
  • THE DEMISE OF THE WORLD REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS - SOVIET-ANGOLAN RELATIONS UNDER GORBACHEV JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN AFRICAN STUDIES McFaul, M. 1990; 16 (1): 165-189
  • RETHINKING THE REAGAN DOCTRINE IN ANGOLA INTERNATIONAL SECURITY McFaul, M. 1990; 14 (3): 99-135