In February 2017, I published this piece @PostOpinions. "Opinion | We can’t let Trump go down Putin’s path." THREAD. 1/…
Have witnessed and written extensively about the gradual erosion of democracy in Russia (& other countries), I thought we Americans could learn some lessons from the Russian "case". (Tweeting some of the key points from the piece, hidden behind a paywall) 2/
"Liberal friends of mine inside the Russian government at the time argued that they had to stay where they were so that they could resist Putin’s autocratic ways." We've heard that one now for 4 years. 3/
"when tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets to protests against his regime in December 2011, Putin labeled them traitors ..." Just like Trump has done for 4 years. 4/
"To counter the urban, educated, wealthy “creative class” protesting against him, Putin also mobilized his electoral base: the rural, poor, uneducated supporters who were the primary losers of Russia’s (partial) integration into the global market economy." Sound familiar? 5/
"Putin and his administration took deliberate actions to polarize Russian society, pitting citizens from big cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg against “real” Russians in the rural heartland." Sound like Trump? Yep. 6/
"In retrospect, Russians who lament the consolidation of Putin’s autocracy all say they reacted too slowly at the beginning. They didn’t believe things could get so bad. They didn’t believe Putin would ever go as far as he did." Sound familiar? 7/
"Back in 2000, Putin had few allies within the state, and lukewarm support in society... Had these forces pushed back immediately against creeping authoritarianism, Russia’s political trajectory might have been different." 8/
"certain lessons from the Russian experience remain relevant [to the U.S.] First, small steps toward autocracy at the beginning of a new presidency can produce momentum toward bigger autocratic changes later." 9/
"Second, we must beware of the dangers of acquiescence or indifference. We should not rely on the hope that initial dangerous acts will fizzle out, or that working from within will help to protect democracy." 10/
"Let us not end up in the position of those Russian democrats, both inside and outside government, who later wished that they had stood up to Putin’s autocratic ways earlier..." (I wrote this piece 4 years ago.)11/
"Thankfully, this historic analogy is not precise. American democratic institutions — including Congress, the courts, the opposition party, state-level governments, the media and civil society — are much more robust today than similar Russian institutions were in 2000." 12/
But our fight against autocracy is still in the early stages, like the early 1990s in Russia or the early 1920s in Weimar Germany. Defeating cancerous autocratic forces now will be much easier then allowing them, in the name of unity or winning elections, to fester & grow. 13/
All those who believe in democracy, conservatives and liberals alike, must unify against these Trump-inspired autocratic forces now, while they are still weak. The history of Russia (and other countries) shows clearly the dangers of acquiescence and indifference. END THREAD. 14/

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More from @McFaul

21 Dec 20
I agree mostly with Bob Gates here: "The World Is Full of Challenges. Here’s How Biden Can Meet Them." THREAD 1/…
On diagnosis, here's is my parallel take "Opinion | The good, the bad and the (very) ugly foreign policy legacy Trump leaves for Biden"… via @NBCNewsTHINK 2/
On Gates' call for reforming and enhancing diplomacy, here's my take: Dressing for Dinner 3/…
Read 6 tweets
19 Dec 20
Saddened to read this story about Trump's decision to close our consulates in Ekaterinburg and Vladivostok. THREAD 1/…
The U.S. should be seeking ways to engage more directly with Russian society. These consulates help. Some of my best trips in Russia as U.S. Ambassador were to Ekaterinburg and Vladivostok. 3/
In Ekaterinburg, the press followed me everywhere. They were eager for interaction. 4/
Read 6 tweets
18 Dec 20
Since the parlor game of naming ambassadors has begun, here are a few my unsolicited recommendations. First, some principles, We need experience qualified people -- career or political -- in the top jobs. I explain why here. THREAD 1/…
Diplomacy with our rivals is most important. For China, Ambassador William Burns would be great. For Russia, Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch would be great. 2/
Next, we need strong ambassadors in the countries that help us contain (and engage) China and Russia. In Europe, that's Germany. Karen Donfried would be ideal there. In Asia, that's Japan. Kurt Campbell would be a strong ambassador there. 3/
Read 5 tweets
18 Dec 20
On Russian power, a few sentences from “Putin, Putinism, and the Domestic Determinants of Russian Foreign Policy."… THREAD/ 1.
"Regarding military power, Russia has substantially greater capabilities in 2020 compared to 1992 with its modernizing nuclear arsenal, new missile defense and space capabilities, and a vastly expanded conventional military budget." 2/
"Russian conventional military power in the European theater is particularly threatening. As one of two nuclear superpowers, Russia far outpaces China, France, and the United Kingdom. Russian military doctrine also has modernized." 3/
Read 14 tweets
17 Dec 20
An article today posted by @JusticeTristan claims that “some Democratic elites who engaged in the conspiracy are outright whitewashing their earlier claims.” He claims that "Michael McFaul… is no exception.” This claim is false. LONG THREAD 1/
I engaged in no “conspiracy” to “whitewash” anything. In fact, my actual words and video clips in this piece demonstrate as much. Go look at them and judge for yourself. (Not posting the piece deliberately because I do not want to amplify, but easy to find.) 2/
To reaffirm (for the last time), the Trump administration – not me – stated repeatedly & unambiguously that the Russian government was propagating disinformation about the Bidens to influence he 2020 campaign. It was not a "hoax." 3/
Read 25 tweets
9 Dec 20
After climate change, competing with China is the next most important security challenge for the United States in the 21st century. The Trump team has framed this struggle as Cold War 2.0. Some parts of this analogy are right. Others very wrong. THREAD 1/
Those invoking the Cold War analogy like it because we "won" the Cold War. If we won Cold War 1.0, we can win Cold War 2.0 2/
In fact, Russian democrats, together with Polish, Hungarian, Baltic, Ukrainian, Georgian anti-communists forces were the ones really responsible for "winning" the Cold War. We played a marginal role in the end game. (But that's a longer story for another day) 3/
Read 8 tweets

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