Obama Picks Stanford Professor as Russian Ambassador

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    Stanford University
    Michael McFaul, seen here with President Barack Obama, is the country's new ambassador to Russia. Photo: Stanford

    President Barack Obama named a Stanford University political science professor the new ambassador to Russia, the university announced.

    Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, was nominated by Obama to succeed John Beyrle.

    McFaul was a likely candidate considering his experience as a special assistant to the president for national security affairs and senior director for Russia and Eurasia at the National Security Council, according to university officials.

    During his counsel, the U.S. and Russia have signed an arms control treaty that calls for major reductions in nuclear arsenals, finalized a civilian nuclear cooperation pact and expanded the supply route to Afghanistan through the territory of the former Soviet Union.
         
    "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 Coit Blacker, director of the Freeman
    Spogli Institute for International Studies. McFaul serves as the institute's deputy director.

    McFaul is an expert on U.S. foreign policy, U.S. and Russian relations, political and economic reform in the post-communist world and democracy promotion, according to university officials.

    He has authored more than 20 books, including "Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can."
       
    McFaul earned a Bachelor's of Arts in international relations and Slavic languages. At Stanford University, he earned a Master's in Slavic and Eastern European studies in 1986. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he completed his doctorate in international relations in 1991.