The purpose of this study is to attempt to solve why the Taliban have been successful in Afghanistan. In an attempt to solve why, I develop and test a theory on the Taliban's success against the U.S. in Afghanistan. My theory claims that the Taliban have been successful due to U.S. forces committing wrongdoings towards Afghan civilians. These wrongdoings, in turn, pushed civilian support away from the U.S. and its allies in this war. Afghan civilians would side with the Taliban, as they sought protection from the invading forces in their country. As a result of this gain in support, the Taliban were able to bolster the preexisting social ties they had, which allowed them to garner more fighters and resources; the bolstering of their social networks made their success more achievable. I test my theory qualitatively through interviews with American veterans who served in the War in Afghanistan. Through the process of interviews, no evidence that indicates that U.S. forces mistreating Afghans is conditional for Afghans choosing the Taliban. Interviews instead indicate that Afghans chose the Taliban due to pressure and coercion. Despite the introduction of pressure, coercion, and other new potential factors I ultimately have determined my study to be inconclusive due to limitations that prevented the ability to conduct deeper research; those limitations will be explained in the Conclusion section.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Ash, Konstantin


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences


School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date