Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Kurt Taylor Gaubatz

Committee Member

David Earnest

Committee Member

William Brenner


This dissertation answers the question of whether or not democracies can win counterinsurgency conflicts. This is done first through an analysis of the arguments made by those who claim that democracies are uniquely incapable of doing so due to various limitations imposed by public opinion as well as the arguments of those who argue that democracies can win such conflicts given the correct strategy. Secondly, the question is investigated through an examination of three case studies: Malaysia, Vietnam, and Iraq. This analysis demonstrates that the arguments against the ability of democracies to win counterinsurgencies is not as strong as many scholars currently believe. Secondly, this research demonstrates that a population-based, culturally-informed, counterinsurgency strategy provides a plausible avenue of victory for democratic states faced with insurgencies. Though such a strategy cannot guarantee success, the more closely it is followed the more likely success will be.


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