The long search for democratic stability in El Salvador: implications for United States policy
Riedel, Curtis B
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From 1980 to 1992, the United States spent over 6 billion dollars to combat insurgency and bolster democracy in El Salvador, a nation of only 5.3 million people. In fact, El Salvador was the site of the United States' most prolonged - and until the Persian Gulf War - the most costly military endeavor since Vietnam. While United States assistance did help the Salvadoran government combat the insurgents, this aid by most accounts acted to undermine rather than bolster the democratic stability of the country. The thesis examines the democratic experience of El Salvador, as a representative case study of a nation experiencing insurgency, to determine what changes are required in the formation of US foreign policy to help bolster democratic stability in countries challenged by insurgency. The thesis makes four key assertions: First, it is in the United States' self-interest to aid in the consolidation of democracy in El Salvador. Second, El Salvador is a nascent democracy, even after the Peace Accords of 1992 were signed, lacking democratic experience or stability, thus requiring US assistance. Third, despite oligarchic resistance, the United States has the ability to successfully influence democratic reform. Fourth, the best way to define United States' priorities for democratic assistance to El Salvador must be through a comprehensive, empirically-based assessment of causal factors. Utilizing the El Salvador case study and pre-existing theories, the thesis then presents and tests a new empirically-based model for define US priorities for providing democratic assistance to El Salvador or any other country under consideration. The research could potentially save the United States significant resources and time, while achieving the foreign policy goal of democratic enlargement
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