Date of Award

Winter 2011

Project Type


College or School



Political Science

Program or Major

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Alynna J. Lyon

Second Advisor

Jeannie L. Sowers

Third Advisor

Stacy D. VanDeveer


It has been over a decade since the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom. Today, Afghanistan and the Taliban are at the forefront of US foreign policy. This thesis aims to define the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, from past to present, and asks why they still exist as a political movement after a decade of war and counterinsurgency efforts. It discusses the rise of both the Taliban and the neo-Taliban and observes their differences and similarities. Subsequently, using Cornelia Beyer's "Synthetic Approach," the Taliban insurgency and US-led counterinsurgency efforts are analyzed. The Synthetic Approach allows the opportunity to look at the Afghan insurgency using multiple variables from an international perspective. The Taliban's tactics, edicts, and geopolitical space are dynamic and constantly shifting. This thesis employs an equally dynamic theoretical framework with which to trace the Taliban and explain their resilient nature.