Phillips, David L.
Phillips, David L.
CAREER: Civil servant and historian. United Nations Secretariat Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, New York, NY, senior advisor, 2000; U.S. Department of State, foreign affairs expert at Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs, then senior advisor for Bureau for European and Canadian Affairs; Council on Foreign Relations, New York, NY, senior fellow and deputy director of Center for Preventive Action, 2003–; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, visiting scholar at Center for Middle East Studies. Columbia University, New York, NY, executive director of International Conflict Resolution, c. 1980s; Interna-tional Peace Research Institute, Oslo, Norway, former program director; European Centre for Common Ground, former director; Congressional Human Rights Foundation, former president. Member of boards concerned with human rights, humanitarian affairs, peace, and conflict prevention.
Crucial Land Battles, MetroBooks (New York, NY), 1996.
A Soldier's Story, MetroBooks (New York, NY), 1997.
Daring Raiders, MetroBooks (New York, NY), 1998.
Maps of the Civil War: The Roads They Took, Metro-Books (New York, NY), 1998.
(With John C. Wideman) Chronicles of the Civil War: An Illustrated History of the War between the States, MetroBooks (New York, NY), 1999.
(With William H. Lucy) Confronting Suburban Decline: Strategic Planning for Metropolitan Renewal, Island Press (Washington, DC), 2000.
Unsilencing the Past: Track Two Diplomacy and Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation, Berghahn Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco, Westview Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to War Diaries: The 1861 Kanawha Valley Campaigns, Gauley Mount Press (Leesburg, VA), 1990, and War Stories: Civil War in West Virginia, Gauley Mount Press, 1991; contributor to periodicals, including New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Foreign Affairs.
SIDELIGHTS: David L. Phillips, an expert in human rights, humanitarian action, conflict prevention, and diplomacy, has international expertise in regions such as the Middle East and the Balkans. Phillips is also the author of several books on the U.S. Civil War and on international diplomacy. In his 2005 book, Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco, Phillips draws from his experience as U.S. Department of State senior policy advisor to President George W. Bush to describe the U.S. involvement in the Iraq War, which began with the invasion of that country in 2003. Phillips recounts how, prior to the war, he was part of a State Department group that led an effort to form a coalition of international officials—including Iraqis—to help the transition into a new, democratically based government with a viable economy. According to Phillips, the administration ignored most of the group's recommendations, resulting in what he views as a disastrous outcome following the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Phillips outlines the infighting between the hawkish members of Bush's inner circle, such as Paul Wolfowitz, and those who wanted to take a more even-handed approach, such as Secretary of State Colin Powell. He ruminates on the U.S. backing of Ahmed Chalabi, who later proved to have dubious motives, and also discusses what he believes went wrong following the initial invasion.
Part of the problem, according to Phillips, stemmed from Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Bremmer headed to oversee Iraq following the war. Phillips regards the CPA's decision to disband the entire civilian administration of Iraq and its army—which, he states, could have been used to help maintain peace—as a miscalculation. He also discusses the centuries-long animus among various religious groups and factions within Iraq—Shia versus Sunni and Baathist versus Kurd—that contributed to the ongoing problem in establishing a stable democratic government.
In a review of Losing Iraq, a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "sets out … to contrast what he sees as the reality of the occupation with the stated policies of the government." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews commented that Phillips "suggests that federalism may be the best hope for an independent nation," and went on to note that the author states that "the occupation … has been characterized by sheer incompetence," and his book "does a good job of recording a long series of missteps, naming names as it does." Nader Entessar, writing in the Library Journal, felt that Phillips "provides a fascinating insider's view of what went wrong." An Economist reviewer commented that the book "has much interesting detail about the post-war administration in Baghdad and the machinations of America's former ally, Ahmed Chalabi."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Economist, July 2, 2005, review of Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco, p. 74.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of Losing Iraq, p. 527.
Library Journal, May 15, 2005, Nader Entessar, review of Losing Iraq, p. 129.
Publishers Weekly, April 18, 2005, review of Losing Iraq, p. 52.
Council on Foreign Relations Web site, http://www.cfr.org/ (September 16, 2005), profile of author.