The people of Iraq and Ukraine have reason to scoff when we say we care about building up their public infrastructure, given the neglect those same political leaders have shown about American infrastructure.
9. Our police forces have become unaccountable paramilitary organizations.
As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down, all the surplus military equipment not getting used in the battlefield is being used at home, by local police forces. All a municipal police department has to do is apply for a grant through the Department of Homeland Security, and it can get tanks, drones, firepower, armor, water cannons, flash-bang grenades, LRAD sound devices, and other equipment that has no purpose enforcing the law amongst civilians. As the crackdown on the Occupy movement showed, this military equipment is often used to suppress the democratic rights of citizens nonviolently assembling in public spaces.
When countries like Egypt or Russia use military equipment to suppress peaceful citizen protests, our government is the first to condemn it. But through the continued auspices of the "War on Terror," our government has sanctioned everything from the mass surveillance of calls and emails to the indefinite detention of US citizens in military jail under the flimsiest of accusations. How can America "bring freedom" to another country when American citizens live under the thumb of a militarized police state?
Before we start sending off troops to bring all the wonderful things we love about America to the rest of the world, maybe we should tend to our own affairs first. Let's take the log out of our own eye before we talk about the speck in the eye of other countries.
*Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.