This week's phrase - ''full spectrum dominance'' - came to me thanks to Nobel-prize winner Helen Caldicott, who now heads the Nuclear Policy Research Institute.
She invited me to a bipartisan seminar on the militarization of space at the Airlie Conference Center in Warrenton, Va., about 45 minutes outside of the nation's capital. The conference was attended by top defense experts, scholars, diplomats and a handful of reporters. (Disclosure: The research institute, an anti-nuclear advocacy group, partially funded Gonsalves' attendance.)
''Full-Spectrum Dominance'' comes right out of U.S. military doctrine as outlined in documents such as ''Full Spectrum Dominance and Air Force Space Command Strategic Master Plan FY06,'' which states that the U.S. military goal is to fight war ''in, from and through'' space, based on the Rumsfeld logic that whoever controls space will dominate earth.
Dr. Craig Eisendrath, who helped write the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and is now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, gave an overview on the history of ballistic missile defense. The U.S. actually deployed a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system in North Dakota in 1976, which cost $6 billion. Four months after it was set up, it was dismantled because it didn't work.
Dr. Theodore Postol, professor of science, technology and national security at MIT, talked about why we're barking up the wrong circuit-tree, having spent about $130 billion on BMD research and technology to date. Postol, probably the best-known expert critic of BMD, began his talk by saying ''I like weapons that work.'' He explained, in technical detail, why scientists can't make a viable BMD system. He called it the ''problem of discrimination.''
''Imagine looking for a bomb in a suitcase but you can't look inside the suitcase, even though it's the contents that need to identified...if multiple objects have the same appearance, then discrimination is impossible.''
Simple decoys like aluminum balloons look like missiles or light-seeking warheads. And even when a ballistic missile is targeted by the ''eyes'' of interceptors, their sight is analogous to looking at a target ''through a drinking straw.''
A half-dozen distinguished scientists agreed, including two Nobel prize winners, Dr. John Polyanni, chemistry professor at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Steven Weinberg, director of Theory Research Group at the University of Texas in Austin.
In fact, Weinberg went so far as to say that manned space exploration has far less scientific value than do unmanned space exploration, which has all but gone down the tubes with the decommissioning of the Hubble.
President Bush announced manned-space exploration as a goal of his administration, which would cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
Wasting money on a costly, unworkable system that offers the illusion of absolute security; taxpayer money that could be better spent on public needs like health care, he said, is ''criminal.''
As you read this, defense officials are developing plans to put weapons in space, things like hypervelocity rod bundles, which insiders call ''Rods from God,'' whose purpose is to penetrate subterranean targets.
Our policy planners and so-called leaders are provoking China and Russia in their pursuit of God-like powers to dominate the earth, which is the most dangerous form of idolatry imaginable.
Meanwhile, most Americans have never heard of this stuff, even from the ''liberal'' media, as conservative Christians, who seem to be hogging the national microphone, debate about same-sex marriage and stem-cell research.
If it's ''the kids'' and future generations we're really concerned about, we had better get more acquainted with ''full-spectrum dominance'' and re-acquaint ourselves with words like proportionality, priorities and moral discernment.
For more info, go to www.nuclearpolicy.org.
Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and a syndicated columnist.
© 2005 Cape Cod Times