KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - First they tried lines of empty boots, then ribbons bearing the names of the more than 3,000 dead U.S. soldiers. Now anti-war protesters are trying a fresh tactic: appealing to American worries about their wallets.
Proclaiming that one day of the Iraq War costs $720 million, or $500,000 a minute, the Quaker pacifist group American Friends Service Committee is taking the money-focused message to a dozen U.S. cities in a series of seven-foot (more-than-one-meter) banners.
The banners stress what could be bought with the war dollars: one banner says that the tax funds spent in Iraq each day could pay for 84 new elementary schools, while another says it could pay for health care for more than 163,000 people.
A variety of anti-war groups are displaying the banners on downtown street corners, festivals and at campaign stops around the country, including in Kansas City on Friday and Saturday.
And the banners will be featured prominently by protesters marching in front of the White House this week, organizers said.
“We want to really motivate people,” said Ira Harritt, an anti-war organizer in Kansas City. “There is a stalemate in Washington and we have to make it politically imperative for Congress ... to realize it is too costly to allow the war to grind on and on.”
Mary Zerkel, a spokeswoman for American Friends, said the $720 million includes money spent in Iraq for troops, equipment and rebuilding projects as well as money spent to care for wounded soldiers and to pay the interest on the war debt.
“Every kid in the country could have a four-year scholarship to college with this money,” Zerkel said. “Where are our priorities?”