This article shows how officials in Sierra Leone who presided over weak state institutions at the outset incorporated into their own domestic political strategies the norms that guide international intervention. The implementation of these policies further undermined the aims of outside assistance. Although these international norms, which emphasize market-oriented reform, democratization, and state-building, undergird order in many states in the international system, they can also reinforce corruption and disorder in other contexts where political entrepreneurs are able to channel external resources for consolidation of extant or new local political structures based on alternative forms of control. The remainder of the article focuses on the role played by externally prescribed economic reform, the politicization of multinational corporations, and the emergence of non-state security alternatives in providing new opportunities for state and local actors. These opportunities allow actors to avert common state- building strategies, and minimize the voice of ordinary Sierra Leoneans in local and national politics. I conclude by considering alternative ways to foster the creation of political order.