It was recently announced with little fanfare that Michael McFaul will take the post as new Ambassador to Russia from the United States, pending Senate confirmation. Nice to know that a highly qualified and thoughtful individual will be entering the Russian environment on my heels and I look forward to greeting his family at the Anglo-American School.
I’ve been reading a bit of his most recent book (Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can) and looking to potentially incorporate some of his leadership thoughts in my own dissertation work. He has presented a well thought out case for instituting change in a complex global context.
Recent pundits have suggested that foreign policy centered on elections is shortsighted by ignoring the other institutions necessary to give sustainability to those election results. Namely, a sufficiently mature legal system and a methodology for assuring basic rights and establishments that resist be undermined by leaders who are ultimately elected. Ground rules or rules of engagement are critical to the success of democracy and is ultimately based on the premise of shared leadership.
In that sense, Dr. McFaul stands poised to answer some of the tough questions about how we increase both individual freedoms and responsible governing beyond U. S. borders. In that sense I value what he brings to the table that is distinctly different from the more typical career diplomat that is often appointed.
President Obama has made a good choice here and, again, has demonstrated a deep understanding of the complex relationships that must be addressed in foreign policy. The criticisms that come with more simplistic attitudes serve only to undermine U.S. credibility and push back peaceful coexistence with each unrelenting barrage. Time to leave our president alone and let his intelligence and leadership drive the agenda like no other president in recent memory has been able to do.