Phil Williams Named Posvar Chair, Director of Matthew B. Ridgway Center For International Security Studies

Issue Date: 
November 16, 2009
Phil WilliamsPhil Williams

Phil Williams, Pitt professor of public and international affairs, has been named the holder of the Wesley W. Posvar Chair in International Security Studies within Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). He is also the new director of the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies, which is part of both GSPIA and Pitt’s University Center for International Studies (UCIS).

“Phil Williams will do an outstanding job as Posvar Chair and Ridgway Center director,” said John T.S. Keeler, dean of GSPIA. “His stature as one of the world’s leading experts on transnational organized crime will attract a steady flow of scholars and officials to the center. In addition, as one of GSPIA’s most inspiring and popular teachers, he is well positioned to engage our students in Ridgway activities.”

Williams, who previously served as the Ridgway Center director from 1992 through 2001, has published extensively in the field of international security, including the books Crisis Management (Wiley, 1976), The Senate and U.S. Troops in Europe (St. Martin’s Press, 1986), and, with Mike Bowker, Superpower Detente: A Reappraisal (Sage Publications Ltd, 1987). During the last 16 years, his research has focused primarily on transnational organized crime and he has written articles on various aspects of this subject in the journals Survival, Washington Quarterly, The Bulletin on Narcotics, Crime Law and Social Change, and International Peacekeeping, and in Scientific American. In addition, Williams was founding editor of the journal Transnational Organized Crime and has edited several publications on combating organized crime and the trafficking of women.

Williams has been a consultant to both the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime and U.S. government agencies and also has given congressional testimony on organized crime. He was a joint author for a United Nations study on offshore financial centers and money laundering. Most recently, he has focused on alliances among criminal organizations, as well as on terrorist finances, drugs and violence in Mexico, and complexity theory and intelligence analysis. In 2001 and 2002, Williams spent a year at the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, where he worked on intelligence analysis for cyberthreats and financial cybercrime. He also has worked on terrorist finances, ungoverned spaces, and drug trafficking through West Africa. In 2007-09, he was a visiting research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, the U.S. Army War College, where he wrote two monographs—The New Dark Age: The Decline of the State and U.S. Strategy (U.S. Army War College, 2008) and Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents: Organized Crime in Iraq (U.S. Army War College, 2009).

Williams received his PhD degree from the University of Southampton, England, and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University College of Wales.

The University of Pittsburgh established the Posvar Chair to honor late Pitt chancellor Wesley Posvar, who died on July 27, 2001. Posvar, who had been a Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force, served as chancellor of the University from 1967 to 1991 and was renowned for his early recognition of the importance of international studies, establishing UCIS during his years as Pitt’s leader. He was a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an advisory trustee of the Rand Corporation, and a founder and president of the International Studies Association. The Posvar Chair is always held by the professor who also serves as director of Pitt’s Ridgway Center.

The Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies was established at the University of Pittsburgh in 1988 under the auspices of GSPIA and UCIS. Dedicated to the American general whom many historians credit with saving the U.S. position after China’s intervention in the Korean War, the center addresses in innovative ways new security challenges facing the United States and the international community.