The Counterinsurgency Guide to Relationships

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Everyone’s an expert.

I’m an expert that apparently doesn’t know a damn thing about relationships. I do however, know something about counterinsurgency, so here I’ll applied some tried and true strategies from CI to the male/ female game of love.

1) Trust but verify.

Anything Ronald Reagan said must be true. Is Khalim Mamoud an insurgent spy? He says he isn’t, he says he’s giving you good intel on the whereabouts of enemy hideouts. But the last two times we set up operations to check the places out, our forces were ambushed. Now we’re suspicious. We insert a team into Mamoud’s house and find Jihadist training manuals in his basement and op orders from a local terror ring on his laptop.

Khalim Mamoud’s been a bad boy. But you probably saved American lives by verifying wheather your suspiciouns were correct.

You and Jessica have been dating for three months now. On the few times you’ve spent the night at her place, her phone started ringing after 1 in the morning. It happened on several occasions. Jessica simply reached for her phone and shuts it off before going back to sleep. No explanation. There’s a voice in the back of your head telling something’s up. Maybe you’re just being paranoid. Maybe not.

One time when Jessica is upstairs taking a shower, you see a text come up on her cell phone. Hoping to relieve yourself of your nagging suspicions, you open the text. It’s one of Jessica’s old flames. And he’s not asking her for her recipe for pumpkin pie. He’s releiving the good ‘ol days–with every explicit detail there for your eyes to feast on. You go back through her log and find other texts, but in these ones, Jessica is giving as much as she’s getting, if you know what I mean.

Jessica’s been a bad girl.

When you confront Jessica about the the text, she’ll more than likely try to turn it around on you. Why were you invading her privacy? Don’t let that garbage get to you. She knows what she was doing is wrong. She’s merely taking the offensive (she’s smart; 3.5 gpa), hoping you’ll back off and let her off the hook.

But you did the right thing. You saved yourself a whole lotta pain down the road. And now you can get back in the game with someone hotter–and hopefully a lot more honest.

2) Know when to “Go Kinetic”, and when not to.

In terms of counterinsurgency, “Going Kinetic” means using force. Kicking in doors, shooting terrorists, and sending bad guys to the shade of paradise’s tree with Tomahawk Cruise Missiles.

Works great–except for the rule of unintended consequences. Sometimes terrorist training camps really are aspirin factories. Sometimes you kick in the wrong door and make an enemy out of a former friend. Better to win the hearts and minds of those that are willing to help, before committing to extreme measures.

But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Jihadists don’t do very well in rehab programs and they make bombs out of soccer balls. They’re better off dead.

Sometimes we end up in relationships with people who cannot be rehabilitated. They formed some catastrophic habits over their life and their ethos revolves around those habits. I’ve found that the best way to make myself a good person is to remember all of the things that people have doen to me that I hated, really hated, and to try my best not to do those things to others. Sometimes it’s tough, especially when emotions are involved. The thing I hate most is lying. All bad things come from lies. And lies come from all bad things.

If somethings bothering you in your relationship, ask yourself–is it really that bad? Is the person intentionally doing something hurtful? If not, maybe you can live with it. But if the person starts lying, that shows a deep character flaw and you’d better think twice, because the casualties you take trying to make a liar into an honest person will probably be a war of attrition you can’t win.

3) Be an unbiased analyst

Throwing out bias is a key component for being a good intelligence analyst. We all have biases of course. But the best analyst can see many possibilities and can pear the ones that aren’t likely.

How do others view your relationship? Are you abusive with your words? Others may see it when you don’t. How do others view your partner? Are you hanging on to false hopes?

Negative truths are unlikely to be easy to swallow and the strength to do something about those truths is something that comes only with time and experience.


3 thoughts on “The Counterinsurgency Guide to Relationships

    Amos Volante said:
    April 27, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    4) Reference the bad experiences of others so you do not have to relive the experience yourself.

    Sometimes others have found out the same thing in the same way, especially with a certain class of insurgents. We aren’t college students, so the way one soldier can improve on another’s performance is to study and understand prior encounters with unreliable informants.

    Sometimes, it is what it is.

    kernunos said:
    April 28, 2009 at 1:09 am

    5) Don’t pick anymore fixer-uppers. Living the classic life of a fixer leaves you needing to be fixed in the end. After a while a fixer doesn’t even know he is picking up damaged goods. He is just subconsciously attracted to that type of woman. Try a woman you are not attracted to.

    magus71 responded:
    April 28, 2009 at 7:53 am


    Interesting idea about trying a woman I’m not attracted to. It reminds me of when I read Daryl Strawberry’s auto-biography. He said that when he was in a hitting funk, he would try NOT to hit a homerun, and it usually worked to fix his swing. The deeper he got into a slump, the harder he tried, causing him to over swing.

    Then he stopped trying so hard.

    How very zen.

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