Perhaps the book Michael McFaul is most recognized for is From Cold War to Hot Peace. It’s his personal memoir from his time as the American ambassador to Russia. But like I said on the podcast it also provides a chronicle of US-Russo relations during a time of transition. McFaul begins his book with his earliest interactions with Russia. Through this lens McFaul explains the evolution of American and Russian relations from the late Soviet era until the early Trump era. The book is quite personal, but also provides readers a clear sense of the key moments in the diplomatic relationship.
McFaul becomes an active participant in the development of American foreign policy after the election of Barak Obama. During the early years of Obama’s Presidency, McFaul became identified with what has been called the Russian Reset. He encouraged Obama to work closely with the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. However, in 2012 Medvedev did not seek reelection. Instead, Vladimir Putin made his candidacy known and won the election. The return of Putin to the presidency ended the brief window of the Russian Reset. McFaul accepted his role as the American ambassador to Russia under the shadow of these ominous circumstances.
In the book he describes the impact on him personally. He writes, “In Prague, I had been the author of the Reset, the driver of closer relations with Russia. In Moscow, I was now a revolutionary, a usurper, and Vladimir Putin’s personal foe.” McFaul describes the hostility Putin has for America through a series of vignettes. Most Americans remain unaware of the persistent harassment the Russian government imposes on our diplomats. But Russian relations have only deteriorated since McFaul wrote his book. It raises a quite scary question. Is this still a hot peace or is it something far worse?
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