From the Stanford Kremlinologist who served as U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, and has since been sanctioned by Vladimir Putin, comes a revelatory account of U.S.-Russia relations from 1989 to the present, told through his experience working for President Barack Obama and witnessing the tightening of Putin's grip firsthand.
For Michael McFaul, in his vigorously argued political memoir, From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia, there is a 'new ideological struggle .?.?. between Russia and the West, not between communism and capitalism but between democracy and autocracy.' As a generalization, that is unconvincing ... McFaul is on surer ground when he describes the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States and a coalition of the gullible as a 'devastating blow' to U.S.-Russia relations ... McFaul’s list of real and perceived Russian grievances adds up to a great deal. He underplays their collective significance ... On occasion only the prudence and sober judgment of a few individuals saved the world from that catastrophe. This remains reason enough for prioritizing the U.S.-Russian relationship, for paying attention to perceptions on both sides as well as to their concrete behavior, and for not stumbling, blindly or fatalistically, into a second cold war — or worse.
The book strives to be a Baedeker on how we arrived at our present inflection point. McFaul succeeds, shedding needed light on the most geopolitically competitive relationship of the last 75 years and attempting to explain the 'why and what' of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election ... While McFaul is confident in the strength of democracy in the US, it is worth remembering that even here democracy is only as strong as the trust it elicits from the governed. Let’s hope McFaul is right.
His engaging political memoir centers on his work as part of the Obama administration and as ambassador in Moscow, as his ideas were tested by the constraints of policy making and challenged by life in a Russia that was rapidly returning to autocracy ... McFaul ends by bringing his depth of perspective to bear on current U.S.-Russian relations, concluding that the 'hot peace' of the Putin era is here to stay. An expert political chronicle that often reads like a fast-paced thriller, this title is highly recommended.