Philip Zelikow

White Burkett Miller Professor of History

Fast Facts

  • Former Miller Center director
  • Executive Director of 9/11 Commission
  • Elected member, American Academy of Diplomacy
  • Expertise in American foreign policy, military history, European military history, Cuban missile crisis

Areas Of Expertise

  • Foreign Affairs
  • American Defense and Security
  • War and Terrorism
  • Domestic Affairs
  • Governance
  • Congress
  • Leadership
  • Politics
  • The Presidency

Philip Zelikow is the White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia, where he has also served as dean of the Graduate School and director of the Miller Center. His scholarly work has focused on critical episodes in American and world history. 

He was a trial and appellate lawyer and then a career diplomat before taking academic positions at Harvard, then Virginia. Before and during his academic career, he has served at all levels of American government. His federal service during five administrations has included positions in the White House, State Department, and the Pentagon. His last full-time government position was as the counselor of the Department of State, a deputy to Secretary Condoleezza Rice. 

He directed a small and short-lived federal agency, the 9/11 Commission. He also directed an earlier bipartisan commission on election reform, chaired by former Presidents Carter and Ford, that led to successful passage of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. More recently he was managing director of “Rework America,” a landmark project on American economic opportunity in the digital age, organized by the Markle Foundation. 

He is one of the few individuals ever to serve on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Boards for presidents of both parties, in the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He has also been a member of the Defense Policy Board for Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and a member of the board of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2020, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Philip Zelikow News Feed

A panel of foreign policy experts marks the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq by discussing Melvyn P. Leffler’s new book, Confronting Saddam Hussein: George W. Bush and the Invasion of Iraq. Looking back, what does this highly consequential foreign policy decision reveal about presidential leadership and decision making? How did Saddam Hussein's record as a brutal dictator influence the decisions made by George W. Bush? Leffler's extensive interviews with top Bush administration policymakers document the war's conflicting objectives and costly aftermath.
Philip Zelikow Miller Center Presents
Russian state assets should compensate Ukraine for Moscow's aggression.
Washington Post
Philip D. Zelikow, a University of Virginia scholar and former State Department counselor, said military aid was more popular than economic aid because much of it is actually spent on arms produced by American defense firms. But he said that economic aid was critical to rebuilding Ukraine, and he argued that seizing $300 billion in Russian assets in the West for reconstruction would ease the burden on the American taxpayer. “I’m critical of the administration because it did not start moving at least six months ago to design a more sustainable and hopeful strategy on what will likely be the decisive battlefield of the war,” he said.
Philip Zelikow The New York Times
"Partisan pressures almost tore apart our commission,” said Philip D. Zelikow, a former government official and White Burkett Miller Professor at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, who was the executive director of the Sept. 11 panel. The problem is even worse today, he said.
Philip Zelikow New York Times
“We’re in another crisis that could escalate to a nuclear war that involves the United States and a government in Moscow,” said Philip Zelikow, the White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia. “Those points aside, I don’t think the crises are very much alike.”
Philip Zelikow UVA Today
In the final episode of a series of video interviews on lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, Brink Lindsey speaks with diplomat, historian, and University of Virginia's Miller Center former director Philip Zelikow.
Philip Zelikow Niskanen Center