Michael Brill

4th-year Ph.D. student
Email Address: 
mbrill@princeton.edu
Office Location: 
Jones Hall

I obtained a B.A. in History and Political Science from Westfield State University in Massachusetts. There I was able to begin my study of Arabic, which I continued with the help of two summer Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) in Muscat, Oman, and Amman, Jordan. After completing my undergraduate studies, I received a full-year fellowship in the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) program in Amman, Jordan. I subsequently obtained a M.A. in the Arab Studies program in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

At Princeton, my research focuses on modern Iraqi history, particularly during the Baʿthist period of 1968-2003. Topics of interest to me include militias under Saddam Hussein’s regime, the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood, and the few hundred members of Iraq’s Jewish community who remained in the country after the early 1970s. Although my work is based primarily on the archives of Saddam’s regime, in the course of my research, I have also become very interested in the history of the various collections of documents in relation to the 1991 and 2003 wars. My dissertation research is based on the membership files of the Baʿth Party, sources that will eventually permit a collective profile of the regime’s second-tier elite. In addition to their utility for writing the social history of modern Iraq, the membership files offer an in-depth look at the human foundations of support that enabled the Baʿth Party and Saddam to remain in power longer than any of their predecessors from the time Iraq achieved independence in 1932. For my dissertation committee, I have the privilege of working with my adviser, Professor Bernard Haykel, Professor Michael A. Reynolds, and my M.A. thesis adviser from Georgetown University, Professor Joseph Sassoon.

Publications List: 

“Falih al-Fayyadh’s Fall From Grace: The Inside Story Of The Treasury Department’s Sanctioning Of Iraq’s PMF Chairman And What Is At Stake,” Hoover Institution: The Caravan Notebook (online), April 2, 2021.

“The Bipartisan Path to Confirming Colin Kahl Runs Through Iraq,” The National Interest (online), March 27, 2021. 

“Remembering Desert Storm and the Gulf War(s) Odyssey of Iraq’s Air Force, Part 2,” Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: History and Public Policy Program (online), January 15, 2021.

“Remembering Desert Storm and the Gulf War(s) Odyssey of Iraq’s Air Force, Part 1,” Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: History and Public Policy Program (online), January 14, 2021.

Book review of Samuel Helfont, Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam, and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq, Middle East Journal, Vol. 74, No. 4 (Winter 2020/2021), 655-656.

“Thinking About the History of Militias in Iraq,” Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: History and Public Policy Program (online), December 3, 2020. 

“Setting the Records Straight in Iraq,” War on the Rocks (online), July 17, 2020.

“The North Iraq Dataset (NIDS) files: Northern Iraq under Baʿthist Rule, 1968-1991,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraq & the Arab World, Volume 14, Numbers 1 & 2 (2020), pp. 105-126 (with Joseph Sassoon).

“The Ghosts of Past Wars Live on in a Critical Archive,” War on the Rocks (online), September 11, 2019 (with Bruce P. Montgomery). 

“Saddam Did Not Create ISIS: Getting the Terrorist Group’s Origin Story Right,” Foreign Affairs (online), April 20, 2016 (with Samuel Helfont). 

“Saddam’s ISIS?: The Terrorist Group’s Real Origin Story,” Foreign Affairs (online), January 12, 2016 (with Samuel Helfont).