We can learn a great deal from the date Aug. 12.
Many will associate Aug. 6 with the deaths of 125,000 civilians at Hiroshima. Very few will associate Aug. 12 with the ongoing deaths of 500,000 children.
Ten years ago on Aug. 12, UNICEF reported on preventable deaths in one country from 1991 - 98 found half a million children had died.
But this UNICEF survey of the deaths of 500,000 infants, toddlers and preschoolers was not mentioned at all on the nightly news.
Meanwhile, 48 of the top 50 U.S. papers that printed any story omitted the most simple, telling statistic: that half a million children had died.
The first point to be learned from Aug. 12: If you get your news only from U.S. mainstream sources, you can expect not to be told about certain major stories.
You might wonder how could 500,000 preventable children's deaths not be reported?
The terrible and obvious answer is because they were Iraqis, and we caused their deaths.
Because of our deliberate Gulf War destruction of Iraq's electricity -- which stopped the pumping of sewage and the processing of safe water -- many children died from water-borne diseases. Years of U.S.-supported sanctions led to malnutrition and many more deaths.
If the report had said Saddam Hussein caused those deaths, it would be in big headlines!
The second, important point to be learned is this: mainstream news programs claim objective reporting. But how do they decide what stories to cover and what to ignore?
Especially in time of war, media manipulation has become an art form. With a few admirable exceptions, our mainstream outlets have not stood up to that manipulation.
One example is Madeleine Albright's claim on CBS' "60 Minutes" that Iraqi children died because Saddam Hussein spent $2 billion building palaces. Simple arithmetic shows Saddam's expense comes to four cents per Iraqi per day. Did any media ever do that calculation? And on that same program, she also said that half a million children's deaths were "worth the price"!
Which brings up a third point to learn from the non-coverage of the Aug. 12, 1999, report.
The primary intelligence failure leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the media's failure to report publicly available information and to draw the obvious conclusions.
We were told the reason we had to go to war was the existence of WMDs in Iraq. Two months before the U.S. invasion, I said to a large public audience, "This has always been about regime change. It has never been about weapons of mass destruction."
How did I know this?
Secretary of State James Baker III said so. Three months after the end of the Gulf War he told Congress, "[We will maintain] UN sanctions in place so long as Saddam Hussein remains in power." That statement completely removed any incentive Saddam had to disarm. And it proves that our goal was not to disarm but to overthrow him.
If our goal was regime change, how did we plan to accomplish it?
Under Dick Cheney as Secretary of Defense from 1989 to 1993, the U.S. strategy for the Gulf War and after was simple. It was to make life very terrible for the Iraqis: unsafe drinking water, no reliable electricity in 100-degree temperatures, few medicines, little food and many, many deaths.
To stop this, Iraq's generals, we thought, would replace Saddam Hussein. It did not happen, but hundreds of thousands of children, the sick and the elderly died.
It's media's job to explain this. By and large our mass media failed miserably in that task.
Jonathan Shay's 1995 book "Achilles in Vietnam" noted that vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder have a problem called "lack of communalization": a dearth of people who can hear their difficult truths. As a result, we fail to comprehend Vietnam.
The same applies to Iraq. By using air power to destroy Iraq's infrastructure -- and sanctions to "keep the pressure on" -- we had hoped to avoid sending American troops in to overthrow Saddam Hussein. By causing massive suffering and death, we created hatred toward us around the world.
George H.W. Bush, Commander in Chief during the 1991 Gulf War, shamefully said, "I'll never apologize for the United States of America, ever. I don't care what the facts are." Pundits who specialize in anger and outrage -- in verbal violence -- claim that those who wish to report difficult facts are "Blame America first" critics. But those who "don't care what the facts are" leave us in profound ignorance.
The reality of Iraq from 1991 to today remains shrouded in a deliberately created "fog of war." If we don't pierce it, we will be easily manipulated into the next war -- and the next.