New Ad Questions US Military Spending Priorities Amid Financial Crisis

In the midst of the credit meltdown and growing financial crisis, a new ad in today’s New York Times calls on Congress and the next president to spend valuable taxpayer dollars on shoring up the American economy and encourages a grass-roots discussion of our massive military spending. The ad, called “Prisoners of War,” is the third in a seven-part ad campaign series sponsored by the Institute for America’s Future that encourages Americans to demand a real debate focused on “seven national crises that won’t wait.”

The ad, surrounded by barbed wire, says Americans are prisoners of war and that “we will not be free to address our problems here at home if we remain prisoners of war abroad.” The ad goes on to note that “We are the mightiest power the world has ever seen, but we are no longer masters of our own fate,” because our military has no answers to the greatest global threats we face as a country, including the meltdown of the U.S. financial system.

Campaign for America’s Future co-director Robert Borosage said the failure of the proposed Wall Street bailout affords Congress new opportunities to take a long hard look at funding priorities.

“Bank failures and the housing crisis have Americans across the country worried about their financial security. Meanwhile we’re pouring $12 billion a month on never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Borosage. “The price tag in Iraq alone may approach $3 trillion, while the economy crumbles around us and countless American jobs are lost. We’re throwing good money after bad.”

Each ad in the series seeks to provoke widespread discussion of major challenges facing the country. Leaders of the Institute are urging people to take the ads to public meetings, church groups and civic associations, and to demand the debate the country needs.

The last ad in the series called for greater oversight of the Bush administration’s proposed $700 billion bailout of the financial markets. Additional ads in the series will focus on the broken health care system, collapsing public infrastructure, the looming global warming challenge, and increasing robber baron corruption.

The full text of this week’s ad follows: PRISONERS OF WAR (A Debate Worthy of a Great Nation in Trouble)

A trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street, a deepening recession, a sinking middle class: America faces a great reckoning. But we will not be free to address our problems here at home if we remain prisoners of war abroad.

We are squandering $12 billion a month on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former may end up costing nearly $3 trillion. More troops are being dispatched to the latter. Our military budget — $700 billion last year -is about equal to that of the rest of the world combined. Our military polices the world, fueled on money borrowed from abroad. Yet both major presidential candidates call for expanding the military, saluting Bush’s “Long War” on terror, a global war with no exits and no deadlines.

We are the mightiest power the world has ever seen, but we are no longer masters of our own fate. Our military has no answer to the greatest threats we face: growing global indebtedness; a deepening addiction to foreign oil; the economic rise of India and China; proliferation of nuclear weapons. Pentagon planners warn that catastrophic climate change will be far more destabilizing than Islamic extremists. Our liberties are trampled not by foreign enemies but by our own leaders fanning a climate of fear and secrecy.

Even the war on terror is — according to the Pentagon’s own consultants at the Rand Corporation — a dangerous distortion which turns fanatics into warriors. Rather than expanding our military for more distant wars and bloody occupations, we should focus on isolating the extremists, sharing global intelligence, cooperating on aggressive policing, cutting their financial lifelines.

Wall Street’s collapse has shattered the myths of free markets. But the costly failures of the war on terror have not yet punctured the myths of military prowess. Until they are challenged, we will remain prisoners of war.

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