With elections over in Iraq, we will see the institution of a democratic way of life for a people that had to go through a lot in order to purge itself of its temptation with a despot.

The elections are symbolic as this political act returned to the people the right to reclaim their place in the building of their nation and in the rebuilding of their lives in the midst of the war that continues to wreak havoc on their dreams and desires.

Books will be written about this war.

If Hollywood will not be reined in, films will dominate the big screen and will bombard us with conflicting images.

Various versions of heroism and betrayal will assault us and depending on who is talking, we will either nod in approval or simply say, big liar!

The whole of Asia will watch even as the latest statistics on the supreme sacrifice of American soldiers continues to post a rise beyond the two thousand mark.

Cindy Sheehan will not stop reminding us of the horrors of the war and the sorrows of mothers speaking out about the pains of losing their sons to a war that they do not approve of.

How many more limbs will be lost apart from the lives, we cannot tell. And we are only speaking from the American side.

There will be a renewed commitment to end terror and put an end to this huge war and its monster-like quality.

We will be reminded of other events.

Afghanistan is almost purged of its terrors now and we hope to see the same with Iraq.

A number of Asian Pacific Americans have taken part in this war, many of them seeing it as their own war in the same way that their nation saw it as a way to liberate a people from the shackles of oppression caused by the Saddam regime and its version of nation building, liberty, development, progress, and freedom.

We speak here of a generation of Asian Pacific Americans owning up this war on terror. It is their own war, the war they will remember for the rest of their lives.

The APA soldier will remember the fear of a people scared to death as the tanks of destruction rolled by in the streets.

The APA soldier will remember the long nights of waiting for ambush.

The APA soldier will remember the picture of death in an instant?death before them in its ugly mask and its equally ugly reality.

They APA soldier will remember their nation, this great nation of immigrants, exerting all it can to spread this gospel of democracy to other peoples and other lands, this very gospel that moved them to enlist, join the war, take up arms, and gather their hopes despite the doubts that things will turn out just as it was planned in the war rooms of generals.

The APA soldier will not be conscious of his ethnic identity in the warfront: he only remembers that he is an American and that he is fighting for this great American war against terror, against a despotic regime that did not have the boldness and daring to honor the basic rights of its people.

Even with the New Year, the promotion of good and evil will always be a subtle act, very tacit, always a play of signs, symbols, images, meanings.

Good will be vended the way the prospective consumers expect it.

Good will still massage the ego of the beneficiary.

The same thing will hold for evil: it will find its place in the hearts of men and women, reside there as if it were good itself, promote itself in much the same way good does, and argue for a cause greater than good.

Or evil will have to appear better than good in order to find its way into the consciousness and reason of a people.

We will see more of the cracks in the reasons for this war in Iraq.

In the United States Congress, there are doubts about its raison d?etre?and the doubts will intensify as the weapons of mass destruction are nowhere to be found and what have been found are the tragic images of lives lost and limbs sacrificed in the altar of war, in the name of democracy.

There will be a call to bring the soldiers home as some well-meaning Americans think of this incursion and excursion into Iraq as some form of a Vietnam.

There will be reconstruction and rehabilitation and rebuilding on both sides.

Iraq will rise up again from the ruins.

Iraq will find ways to regain a footing of its claim to history as old as the mind of man.

Iraq will re-member itself?it will commit itself to that act of remembering what has happened and why in order to offer a better alternative to its people.

The United States will have an obligation to help in the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq?and this obligation will entail both mind and money that will both sum up to another sacrifice.

Even as the soldiers, once they are home, will begin to rehabilitate themselves, the United States will remain in Iraq to help rehabilitate the people and help them get on with their lives, help them move on and march with the beat of the drums of democracy, Iraq-style.

In the meantime, there will be alternatives discourses on what constitutes democracy away from the model of the First World countries, away from the definitions of the developed countries.

There will be an upsurge of new discourses on the notions of transnational capital and its implications in the economy of the poor countries most notably those still entrenched in the ways of old-age farming technology and/or feudalist resource ownership.

Many countries from South and Latin America, for instance, are crying foul about the lopsided effect of trade in agriculture, with many farmers ending up buying the rice and corn of other developed countries instead of producing their own, the staples that they used to produce prior to the onslaught of the lower-priced, imported variety.

Many Asian countries?the Philippines included?have this same story.

The empty rhetoric of the Philippines is that it is the center of rice technology in the whole of Asia and even internationally. Its other empty rhetoric is that is has taught many Asian countries the better way to plan and produce rice. The irony is that the Philippines now imports most of its rice from the very countries it has taught how to plant and produce more efficiently.

In the immigration front, The Great Immigration Debate will continue. The Guest Worker Program will be a contested issue and the immigrant communities?or those who are socially conscious of their obligations to their people and to their new and adoptive country?will take part in this debate as some advocates of immigrant rights have already done so.

So much revisiting will be done of the events of the old year and the Asian Pacific Americans will not be spared of the duty to re-think of their citizenship and heritage obligations especially as they prepare for the month-long celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage in May 2006.

The coming year, thus, will be one of challenges and another triumph of the human spirit.

Pub, INQ, V1N26-27, Dec. 2005

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