2022 Michael McFaul Headshot

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

Biography

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. He is currently writing a book called Autocrats versus Democrats: Lessons from the Cold War for Competing with China and Russia Today.

He teaches courses on great power relations, democratization, comparative foreign policy decision-making, and revolutions.

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. His DPhil thesis was Southern African Liberation and Great Power Intervention: Towards a Theory of Revolution in an International Context.

publications

Books
May 2018

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

Author(s)
cover link From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia
Commentary
December 2017

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

Author(s)
cover link Let’s get the facts right on foreign involvement in our elections

Current research

In The News

Michael McFaul [left], the director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, speaks with Josep Borrell [right], High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, during an event at Stanford University on May 13, 2024.
News

EU High Representative Josep Borrell Calls for Collective Global Action in Gaza and Ukraine

Borrell emphasized the need for EU countries to adapt to the changing geopolitical landscape and increase their strategic responsibility, whether in responding to Russian aggression in Ukraine, the crisis in Gaza, or competition with China.
cover link EU High Representative Josep Borrell Calls for Collective Global Action in Gaza and Ukraine
Michael McFaul listens to President Zuzana Čaputová speak during the Q&A portion of her fireside chat at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.
News

Slovak President Optimistic about Democracy, but Warns about Russian Misinformation

During a visit to the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová reminded the Stanford community that the stakes of the war in Ukraine are high and will impact democracies far beyond Eastern and Central Europe.
cover link Slovak President Optimistic about Democracy, but Warns about Russian Misinformation
Crew onboard a 'Terminator' tank support fighting vehicle during a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II, on June 24, 2020 in Moscow, Russia.
News

Understanding Prigozhin’s Mutiny and What Is — and Isn’t — Happening in Russia

Scholars at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies offer insight on what Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mutiny may signal about Russia, Putin’s power, and the war in Ukraine.
cover link Understanding Prigozhin’s Mutiny and What Is — and Isn’t — Happening in Russia