COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Well, it just reinforces my position that we cannot afford to be, as a country, as a people, seen as tolerating torture in any way, fashion or form, or unusual and degrading punishment as the International Convention Against Torture delineates it. It just undercuts our image. It undercuts our credibility. More important than that, it undercuts our political values and who we are.
And let me just give you a broader context for why that is so important. This is not a conflict of bombs, bullets and bayonets. This is not a conflict where the military should be the leading instrument. Yes, we had to go to Afghanistan because we had no choice. Al-Qaeda was resident there. The people who actually plotted and the people who planned the 9/11 tragedy were resident there. We had to go after them. The Taliban would not give them up. We had to go after them. The military instrument was appropriate there.
But the military instrument is not appropriate to this wider conflict, because this wider conflict is a conflict of ideas. It is our ideas, which are the political values upon which America is based, indeed, upon western liberalism is based, and the ideas of Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other evil people like those. And if we think that this conflict can be won with bombs, bullets and bayonets, we are sadly mistaken. I was a soldier for 31 years. You do not fight ideas with bombs, bullets and bayonets. You fight them with your ideas, because your ideas are better. And so, when you detract from the better of your ideas, when you give people in the world, especially the millions of moderate Muslims who might be sitting on the fence right now in this conflict, when you give them reason to doubt your credibility, to doubt your ideas, give them reason to criticize you, you're actually defeating yourself. And we just can’t continue to do that sort of thing, because this is a war of ideas, and we're going to win it with our ideas, triumphant over the ideas of people like bin Laden and Zarqawi.