Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Joyce Haines


Democracy building operations in foreign nations in Iraq and Afghanistan have been met with resistance and at great cost in terms of dollars and lives. Reducing these costs requires understanding why individuals choose to resist the transition to democracy, yet current research in the field does not address the issues of a previously nonviolent population turning to terrorism to resist transition to democracy. The purpose of this single case study was to use rational choice theory and Crenshaw's 3 levels of causation to understand what factors influenced members of the Sunni sect to resist democratic transition following the 2003 invasion of U.S. forces. Data for this study consisted of secondary data, including transcripts of interviews with 15 Sunni Iraqis who once supported or showed neutrality for a democratic government but then resisted transition through terrorism. Data were deductively coded according to Crenshaw's 3 levels of causation and then subjected to thematic analysis. Findings revealed that the primary factor that led individuals to support terrorism against the transitioning government was political, in that Sunni participants felt that after the democratic transition, the government excluded them from participation in the development of the new government to include constitutional development and elections. Findings also showed that religion, specifically being Sunni, impacted the decision to resort to resistance through terrorism. The study concluded with recommendations to the U.S. government and military forces that highlight planning and execution considerations to address during similar democracy building operations for success in the future.