The Corner

Outstanding in His Field (Russia)

Michael McFaul and Michael McCaul are often confused for each other. The former is a Russianist — one of the leading such scholars in the country. The other is a congressman from Texas (Republican).

And it is the former — the Russianist — who is my guest on Q&A, here.

He is a professor of political science at Stanford. He was U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2011 to 2014. A boy from Montana, he decided fairly early on to make Russia his preoccupation, and occupation.

He knows Putin — has known him for a very long time. He has much to say about Russia, in the Soviet period, immediately after, and now. He further talks about NATO and other issues of concern.

It is a pleasure to converse with someone who knows what he’s talking about. We may not be able to go out to California to study with Professor McFaul, but we can certainly listen to him on a podcast.

Let me mention one point: In 2011, Russia saw massive demonstrations, in protest of rigged elections. This spooked Putin. Spooked him good. He saw what had happened to Qaddafi. And he vowed it would not happen to him. Whatever it took, he would keep the people well at bay. Dissent would be treated ruthlessly, not allowed to grow.

Can he keep the lid on, the screws on, indefinitely? Hard to say. “Indefinitely” is a long time.