Vail Daily column: The death of leadership and democracy |

Vail Daily column: The death of leadership and democracy

Arn Menconi
Valley Voices

Do you like getting kissed when you’re being milked? For over 10 months, I have been speaking out regarding the United States being at war without an Authorization for the Use of Military Force and this administration’s failure to adhere the Constitution of the United States. On Feb 11, President Barack Obama sent a draft AUMF over to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, the two groups that have been debating this matter since September with the administration. I have attended multiple hearings with Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretaries Ash Carter and Chuck Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Martin Dempsey to find out if they can reach agreement on four simple points and they still can’t get a damn AUMF signed.

The hearings have been kabuki theater between both the administration and Congress. It’s sort of a “if you show me your agreement, I’ll show you my agreement, then we can look at each other’s agreements, decide if we like them, then schedule a hearing after we go on vacation to hear about our agreements.”

That’s it!? Its been 10 months since the U.S. began its military campaign against ISIL, with billions of dollars spent and many lives lost, yet Congress is still unwilling to sign a two-page piece of paper required by the U.S. Constitution which clearly prohibits a president from going to war alone without Congress’ approval.

It’s not a law. It’s a resolution. A resolution to this Congress is as meaningless as a treaty was between the U.S. and the Native Americans in the 1800s. So why can’t they sign off on four simple points?

• The enemy is Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

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• There would be no offensive ground combat operations.

• The war powers would end in three years, unless reauthorized, i.e. after Obama is out of office.

• The president would be required to report to Congress at least once every six months on specific actions taken pursuant to this AUMF.

The text of the War Powers Act is explicit: “The president in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances.” Further, it provides that unless Congress has authorized his actions, he must withdraw forces within 60 days.

It is important to understand that there is no geographical boundary. There is no requirement on the expense to the budget which is governed annually in the Defense Budget ($585 billion dollars for 2015) and the Overseas Contingency Operations Budget (the old War on Terror budget at $58.6 billion for 2015).

Congress doesn’t need to prove imminent threat by al-Qaida, the Taliban, other insurgent groups in Afghanistan, AQAP in Yemen, al-Qaida in Somalia and Libya, the Nusrah Front, the Khorsan Group and the Islamic State.

So why is Congress unwilling to create a new AUMF even though U.S. military has been bombing Iraq since August of 2014? The answer is quite simply this: Then they would be on record for wanting to go to war; they could potentially lose an election at a later date; they would be asked about why we are at war; they might have to explain how the military industry complex actually works and what is behind the alliances that we have with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Yemen.

By being cowards, rather than courageous, they have all agreed to be at war with a resolution signed in September of 2001, by a different president and Congress to fight al-Qaida. And not sign a resolution that’s two pages required by the Constitution.

This is like the old joke about the guy who won’t commit in a relationship but still gets laid. The punch line is, “Why buy the cow when the milk’s free?”

These wars are costing us about $500 billion a year conservatively, millions of lives have been lost, countless people have been left homeless and displaced, tens of thousands have been wounded and terrorism abounds.

We are getting milked, while others are getting murdered.

Arn Menconi is a former Eagle County commissioner and executive director of SOS Outreach. He writes for He may be reached at

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