Thursday, June 14, 2018

Michael McFaul

A former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul is currently a professor of political science at Stanford University, the director of Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. His new book is From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia.

From the transcript of McFaul's Q&A with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: What -- what was it like? You're in a dictatorship. You are -- yes, you're the American ambassador, but you have the full resources of this dictatorship directed against you personally.


ZAKARIA: Did you -- I mean, did you feel unnerved?

MCFAUL: Yes, in two respects. One, on the disinformation stuff, sometimes we could laugh about it, but sometimes it got pretty nasty. In fact, the low point without question was when a video circulated suggesting I was a pedophile.

And what do you do about that, Fareed? What do you say -- you get on Twitter and say "I'm not a pedophile"? And to this day, if you search my name and "pedophile" on the Russian search engine, Yandex, 3 million hits come up.

And then, second, you know, you've been to Russia. We used to meet in Russia when I was ambassador. And you should know. You know, but everybody should know that, if the FSB, successor organization to the KGB, wants to follow you and everything you do, they have tremendous capability to do that -- your e-mail, your phone, your house. I had to assume that every single movement I made in Spaso House -- beautiful place, by the way; I was delighted to live there -- but every single movement I made was monitored.

So they have that capacity. And I learned to live with that. But that's one thing. Then there's another thing. And this was -- got dicey sometimes. They can follow you without you knowing. They're great at that. But sometimes they want to follow you because they want you to know you're being followed. And every now and then that would tick up. We would see these guys at my son's soccer game; we would see them tailing me. And the worst was when...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue