Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


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September 15, 2011 - CDDRL, FSI Stanford, CISAC In the News

Stanford's Michael McFaul nominated as new ambassador to Russia

By Judith K. Paulus

Michael McFaul, a Stanford political science professor, senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Hoover Institution Bing Senior Fellow, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as the next ambassador to Russia.  If confirmed, McFaul, who has also served as FSI's deputy director and director of its Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, will succeed John Beyrle.

Since the beginning of the Obama administration, McFaul has been the special assistant to the president for National Security Affairs and senior director for Russia and Eurasia at the National Security Council.

McFaul served as senior advisor on Russia and Eurasia to Obama during the presidential campaign and continued to advise on foreign policy issues during the transition.

The Obama administration has achieved new momentum in relations with Russia with McFaul’s active involvement.  The two countries have signed the New Start arms control treaty which calls for significant cuts in nuclear arsenals, finalized a civilian nuclear cooperation pact, forged agreement on tougher sanctions on Iran, and expanded the supply route to Afghanistan through the territory of the former Soviet Union.

The two powers now turn to the efforts to forge cooperation on missile defense in Europe and to gain Russia’s admission to the World Trade Organization, as well as the challenges posed by Iran and Libya.

“President Obama was fortunate to have the benefit of Mike’s counsel from the White House on a range of vital issues – dealing with Russia, the uprisings of the Arab Spring, and transitions to democracy.  In addition to Mike’s expertise on Russia, he is one of the country’s leading scholars on democracy and comparative democratic transitions and consolidations,” said FSI Director Coit D. Blacker, the Olivier Nomellini Professor in International Studies. “Now, from Mike’s new posting in Moscow, the president can call on Mike’s expertise and experience in the region to build more constructive relationships with Russia, Eurasia, and our allies across a broad strategic front.”

McFaul is a globally acknowledged expert on U.S. foreign policy, U.S.-Russian relations, political and economic reform in the post-communist world, and democracy promotion. He is the author and editor of more than twenty books.  Most recently, those books include McFaul’s Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can; with Amichai Magen and Thomas Risse, Promoting Democracy and the Rule of Law: American and European Strategies; and with Kathryn Stoner-Weiss and Valerie Bunce, Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Postcommunist World. Other books include the edited volume with Anders Aslund, Revolution in Orange: The Origins of Ukraine’s Democratic Breakthrough; with Nikolai Petrov and Andrei Ryabov, Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Postcommunist Political Reform; and with Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, After the Collapse of Communism: Comparative Lessons of Transitions.

McFaul is a non-resident senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  He has also served on numerous editorial boards, including Current History, Journal of Democracy, Demokratizatsiya, Perspectives on European Politics and Society, Post Soviet Affairs, and the Washington Quarterly.  He has served as a consultant for numerous companies and government agencies.

McFaul received a BA in international relations and Slavic languages and an MA in Slavic and East European studies from Stanford University in 1986.  He was awarded a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford where he completed his PhD in International Relations in 1991.


Topics: Democracy | Democracy promotion | History | International Relations | Missile defense | Political reform | Rule of law and corruption | U.S. foreign policy | World Trade Organization | Afghanistan | Central & Eastern Europe/Eurasia | Iran | Libya | Russia | Ukraine | United States | Western Europe