"Our priorities are quite strange," the 31-year-old actress said in an interview that aired Tuesday night on CNN. Jolie said spending money on war rather than "dealing with situations that could end up in conflict if left unassisted" could prove costly in the end.
"We're missing a lot of opportunities (to do) a lot of good that America used to do and has a history of doing," said Jolie, who is a goodwill ambassador for the U.N.'s refugee agency.
Jolie said that when she is in Washington to raise funds for AIDS orphans, she is often told the war in Iraq is the more pressing matter.
She explained that a tattoo on her upper back, "Know Your Rights," is a phrase taken from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the U.N. in 1948.
Jolie, who gave birth to her daughter, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt in Namibia, last month, said her older children, 18-month-old Zahara, adopted from Ethiopia, and 4-year-old Maddox, adopted from Cambodia, are adjusting to life with a new sibling.
She said Zahara is jealous of Shiloh "because she's still a little girl," but for Maddox, "it's like having this tiny little pet he can just hold and look at."
Jolie also told interviewer Anderson Cooper that she and Brad Pitt, Shiloh's father, plan to adopt their next child.
Meanwhile, in an interview that was to air Wednesday night on "Anderson Cooper 360," Cher talked about her support of an effort to modify helmets for U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
The 60-year-old singer-actress has donated more than $130,000 to Operation Helmet, which pays about $100 to modify the inside of soldiers' helmets to make them better able to absorb shock from a bomb blast.
"To be able to use your celebrity for something that you really think is worthwhile is so rewarding," she said.