Brought to you by the same people who think ISIS would cease to exist if only they had more jobs
The State Department’s recent legacy of international embarrassment remains firmly intact.
Daesh (ISIS or ISIL) has a formidable online presence which they use to spread propaganda, recruit new jihadis, and collect information.
Called “Think Again Turn Away” (yeah, we have no clue how they came up with that either) the State Department launched its own overt-education initiative to combat ISIS on social media as part of an Integrated Strategic Counterterrorism Communications Initiative created by Executive Order in 2011. Coming from the same people who think an influx of jobs would deter jihadis from strapping bombs to their chests, the results are about what you’d expect.
According to the Washington Post, “review by outside experts cast new doubt on the U.S. government’s ability to serve as a credible voice against the terrorist group’s propaganda, current and former U.S. officials said.”
You mean to tell me The ABCs of Daesh is not an effective way to combat radical Islamic terrorism? GTFOH.
The review group, which included veterans of Google, Twitter and other technology companies, endorsed State Department initiatives to enlist Middle Eastern allies in the propaganda war as well as a campaign that called attention to often-harrowing accounts from Islamic State defectors.
But the team “had serious questions about whether the U.S. government should be involved in overt messaging at all,” said a U.S. official briefed on the group’s findings. The group’s skepticism reflected concern about U.S. credibility with Muslim audiences overseas as well as the scant evidence that the State program has diminished the flow of recruits to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.
…The U.S. counter-messaging operation “is in disarray,” said Will McCants, an expert on the Islamic State at the Brookings Institution and a former adviser to the State Department. Among those involved in messaging efforts, McCants said, “morale is low, and they’re not getting any clarity from the top about what they’re supposed to be doing.”
State Department officials acknowledged that aspects of the program’s strategy are again being reevaluated, and that the number of positions devoted to producing content and posting items on Twitter and other platforms could be scaled back. But officials cited what they described as major progress on other fronts over the past year, including the addition of foreign partners to an expanding network of messaging centers overseas.
Messaging and propaganda is typically basic content; designed to be meaningful to those without much education. Given that Think Again Turn Away is an English language outlet, it’s hard to determine their target demographic.
Pro-American messaging has long been a crucial component to our eventual success in both military and ideological conflict. Such messaging played a vital role in dismantling the War on Terror in its early stages, particularly in regions like Southeast Asia. Salafist groups like Jemaah Islamiyah were curbed (at least for at time) largely because regional attitudes towards the United States trended positive while those towards Salafist hardliners grew increasingly negative. However, messaging was only one prong of a comprehensive plan to destroy radical Islamic terrorist cells globally, not an oft-cited success (see also: The “we’re fighting ISIS online!” mantra).
Fast forward 10+ years, and this is the Obama administration’s idea of effective anti-ISIS propaganda:
— Think AgainTurn Away (@ThinkAgain_DOS) December 4, 2015
— Think AgainTurn Away (@ThinkAgain_DOS) December 7, 2015
Of course nothing the government does is free to the tax-payer, so how much are we paying for The ABCs of Daesh? $5 million annually.
The Think Again Turn Away failure is so strong, the initiative landed in Sen. Lankford’s annual government waste report, Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball:
Is a $5 million taxpayer-subsidized Twitter account with no way to measure success a good investment for U.S. taxpayers? It is reasonable for American taxpayers, who fund this expensive social media project, to expect there to be metrics on what the mission is, how to define success, and who the target audience is. It is not unreasonable for State to tweet the facts about global terrorism or to work to get the truth out about the murderous thugs of ISIL. There are millions of reasons to “turn away” from terrorism, but should it really cost millions of dollars to tweet about them?
ABCs, climate change, jobs, gutting the first and second amendments — this is how the Obama administration chooses to respond to radical Islamic terrorism. It’s a wonder we’ve lasted this long.
[H/T Jeryl Bier at The Weekly Standard]
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