State Dept’s Propaganda Center Growing Rapidly, But Accomplishing Little

Congress Urges More Growth to Battle ISIS

As US officials are so fond of reminding us, the war against ISIS is increasingly fought on social media, and if there’s one thing that’s ever constant about US wars, it’s that they’re extremely expensive to fight.

After previously failed ad hoc efforts at building a propaganda department for the ISIS war, the Obama Administration set up the “Global Engagement Center,” (GEC) run out of the State Department, giving them broad authority to hire whoever they want to change the “narrative” on social media to one more favorable to the US and its coalition partners.

When you tell bureaucracies to grow, you don’t have to ask twice, and GEC went from a $5.6 million scheme to a $15 million scheme, with about 150 employees, and the Obama Administration seeking at least $21.5 million next year for it.

And what are those guys doing with all those employees and money? Not such, near as anyone can tell. GEC leader Michael Lumpkin, a retired Navy commander, says they’re still “getting the infrastructure in place” to do something.

Congress isn’t happy, but not because GEC is clearly squandering funds. Rather, they’re pushing GEC to grow even faster, and to set up some “institutional foundation” that ensures that it continues its existence beyond the present administration, and presumably beyond the current war. Whether they’ll ever actually start disseminating the propaganda remains to be seen.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.