Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts






afghanistan, afghan, soviet, thesis, situation


This thesis examines and analyzes the process by which the United States' foreign policy was formulated in response to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Soviet leaders deployed the Red Army to Afghanistan in order to prop up the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) in December 1979. The PDPA seized control of the Afghan government in April 1978, and since taking power encountered a perpetually mounting domestic insurgency. The Afghan insurgents, recipients of considerable covert aid from the United States, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, proved to be incredibly effective fighters and consequently, dealt heavy losses to the Soviets. Chronologically this thesis examines America's Afghan policy from the 1970s through 1989, the year when the last Soviet soldiers were withdrawn. The primary focus of this thesis is the role of the United States Department of State in monitoring, evaluating, and responding to the situation in Afghanistan during the 1970s and 1980s. This thesis tracks how attitudes, perceptions, priorities, and goals within the State Department evolved throughout the duration of the conflict as the situation in Afghanistan progressed and political attitudes in Washington changed. Over the duration of the Afghan conflict the State Department's primary concerns were assessing Soviet strategy, monitoring the internal situation in Afghanistan, tracking the status of displaced Afghan refugees and international aid efforts, analyzing the threat posed to US ally Pakistan, and lobbying for international support against this act of Soviet aggression.