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Dr. Phil Williams

Area(s) of Expertise: Transnational Crime

Phone: (412) 648-7637
Email Dr. Phil Williams

Photo PHIL WILLIAMS holds the Wesley W. Posvar Chair in International Security Studies at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, and is the Director of the University’s Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies. Dr. Williams has published extensively in the field of international security. During the last 22 years, his research has focused primarily on transnational organized crime, which he has written about in Survival, Washington Quarterly, The Bulletin on Narcotics, Scientific American, Crime Law and Social Change, and International Peacekeeping. In addition, Dr. Williams was a founding editor of the journal Transnational Organized Crime and has edited several volumes on combating organized crime, Russian organized crime, and the trafficking of women. He has been a consultant to both the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime and U.S. Government agencies and has also given congressional testimony on organized crime. In 2001 and 2002, Dr. Williams spent a sabbatical at Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Emergency Response Team, where he worked on intelligence analysis for cyberthreats and financial cybercrime. Dr. Williams has worked more recently on terrorist finances, ungoverned spaces, and drug trafficking throughout West Africa. In the academic years 2007-8 and 2008-9, he was a visiting research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), U.S. Army War College (USAWC), where he wrote a monograph on The New Dark Age: The Decline of the State and U.S. Strategy. Another one of his monographs, published in August 2009, entitled Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents: Organized Crime in Iraq. Dr. Williams has contributed three chapters to Fighting Back, an edited volume on terrorism published by Stanford University Press; he has also published an article on Mexican drug violence in a special issue of Terrorism and Political Violence and a chapter on Nigerian organized crime in the Oxford Handbook of Organized Crime. He is currently working on the crisis of governance in the northern triangle of Central America.

*The above information may not be current. It was current at the time when the individual worked for SSI or was published by SSI.

SSI books and monographs by Dr. Phil Williams

  • Military Contingencies in Megacities and Sub-Megacities

    December 09, 2016

    Authored by Dr. Phil Williams, Mr. Werner Selle.
    View the Executive Summary

    This monograph looks at the possibility of a U.S. military contingency in a megacity. It examines key aspects of urbanization, identifies the kind of contingencies that might occur, and considers what needs to be done in terms of intelligence preparation for the urban battlefield, recruitment that is more selective, enhanced training, better equipment, and more effective tactics.

  • Cyberspace: Malevolent Actors, Criminal Opportunities, and Strategic Competition

    August 11, 2016

    Edited by Dr. Phil Williams, Dr. Dighton Fiddner.
    View the Executive Summary

    Cyberspace: Malevolent Actors, Criminal Opportunities, and Strategic Competition examines the challenges posed by the unique nature of cyberspace; differences between cyberthreats and more traditional challenges to national security; the range of possible responses to cyberthreats, and the relevance of traditional strategic concepts to potential confrontations in cyberspace. This volume is designed to inform and provoke, as well as to assist civilian and military national security, commerce, public sector, and academic decision-makers in understanding the sheer complexity and dynamism of both cyberspace and its associated insecurities.

  • Drug Trafficking, Violence, and Instability

    April 19, 2012

    Authored by Dr. Phil Williams, Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown.
    The world of armed groups has changed and is continuing to change. What impact will these changes have on the threats and challenges to national and global security in the world today? This monograph focuses on the complex relationship between human security, crime, illicit economies, and law enforcement. It also seeks to disentangle the linkages between insurgency on the one hand and drug trafficking and organized crime on the other, suggesting that criminal activities help sustain an insurgency, but also carry certain risks for the insurgency.

  • Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents: Organized Crime in Iraq

    August 26, 2009

    Authored by Dr. Phil Williams.
    Criminal enterprises and activities had a debilitating impact and made the attainment of U.S. objectives in Iraq much more difficult. Organized crime inhibited reconstruction and development and became a major obstacle to state-building; the insurgency was strengthened and sustained by criminal activities; sectarian conflict was funded by criminal activities and motivated by the desire to control criminal markets; and more traditional criminal enterprises created pervasive insecurity through kidnapping and extortion. Organized crime also acted as an economic and political spoiler in an oil industry expected to be the dynamo for growth and reconstruction in post Ba’athist Iraq.

  • From the New Middle Ages to a New Dark Age: The Decline of the State and U.S. Strategy

    June 03, 2008

    Authored by Dr. Phil Williams.
    The author contends that the long-term decline of the state will move the world into a New Dark Age in which the forces of chaos and disorder will be almost overwhelming. Alternative options for the U.S. response to the security challenges posed by such an environment are examined.

SSI articles, editorial, and briefs by Dr. Phil Williams