McFaul’s World

Here, at McFaul’s World, we will wrestle with the big questions about the nature of international politics today, and especially America’s place in this world. 

  • What does this new era of great power competition between the United States, China, and Russia mean for American national interests, small d democrats around the world, and the future of the international system?

  • What is the state of play between the struggle between democrats versus autocrats around the world, both between countries and within countries?

  • The greatest threat to democracy, sovereignty, and a rules-based international system is Putin’s war in Ukraine. How do we understand the conflict and what can we do to help end it?

As a lifelong academic, I aim to engage these questions through hypothesis testing and data. But I do have opinions, beliefs, and normative commitments - the belief in the universality of human rights and in democracy. I realize that the older I get, the less I feel I know. So, on this platform, I want to learn through meaningful dialogue with anyone who wants to join the conversation in a respectful way. No name-calling here. No propagating obvious disinformation. But if you too like to learn through interaction, updated assumptions, logical reasoning, exposure to new evidence, and argumentation, then you’ll have fun here. 

So, now that we’ve established the rules of engagement, what can you expect at this platform?

  • First drafts of analytical pieces mostly on international politics and American democracy, but not only. Because they will be first drafts, hungry for your feedback!

  • Personal, reflective essays inspired by my own historical experience at home and abroad

  • Interaction with you in a structured, meaningful dialogue via chat sessions and other means. Together we learn and grow. 

So, sign up now! Help me create, develop, and shape McFaul’s World.

About me

I joined Stanford University’s faculty in 1995. I currently serve as the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies in Political Science, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution all at Stanford.  I teach courses on U.S. foreign policy, great power competition, and democratization, and as FSI Director get to host all sorts of events and visitors.

I also worked in government. I served in the Obama administration for five years, 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). I continue to engage the U.S. government as well as other governments on foreign policy issues.

I also believe in engagement with the public. That’s why I’m here!  I also currently am an international affairs analyst for NBC News, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, and an author of numerous books, including “From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia”, academic articles, policy articles, social media posts, radio shows, podcasts and more.  My next book is tentatively titled Autocrats Versus Democrats: Lessons from the Cold War for Competing with China and Russia Today.  You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  For more, check out my website

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Analyzing the fight between democrats and autocrats around the world. Cheering for the democrats to win.


Professor of Political Science, Director of Freeman Spogli Institute & Hoover Senior Fellow all at Stanford University. U.S. Ambassador to Russia, 2012-2014.