Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program

Government and Legal Studies

First Advisor

Barbara Elias


Throughout the 21st century, certain facets of the democratic peace theory have informed American foreign policy, as policymakers credit democracy promotion with long-term stability and peace. In contrast, many political scientists have documented the often destabilizing and violent effects of democratization, particularly in underdeveloped states. How can we reconcile these tensions, and in what ways do they affect American foreign policy abroad? Under the lens of just war theory, or the doctrine of military ethics detailing the conditions under which it is morally acceptable to go to war, wage war and restore peace after war, this paper seeks to examine security sector reconstruction in post-counterinsurgency eras. In doing so, my analysis documents the effects of electoral processes on security and underscores the many difficulties of post-war rebuilding processes. In understanding these difficulties, I attempt to extract crucial lessons from the “best case” scenario of El Salvador and the “worst case” scenario of Iraq, both of which illuminate the fundamental tension between democratization and stability.