Thursday, December 01, 2005

Is your partner in democracy going to cut and run?

7 warning signs his steadfast resolve may be hitting the road to Damascus

It wasn’t so long ago that you and your partner in democracy started your relationship. You remember the giddy times you started into each other’s eyes, talking long into the night about your hopes and dreams for civil liberties and parliamentary procedures.

Now every conversation about internal security makes you feel insecure. He looks like he’s suffering every time you talk about suffrage. Your domestic disputes are getting more and more violent, and you even suspect that he’s conducting secret international affairs behind your back.

Are you just being paranoid about being abandoned, or is your intelligence highly reliable? Here are seven ways to tell whether freedom is running its course...or running for the door.

1) Every time you talk about the future, he checks his watch

When you talk terror, does he talk timetables? When he talks about plans for the next couple of years, what pronoun does he use? The more he says you you you, the less likely he means be we we we.

2) He keeps reinforcing that you’re reinforced

Trained battalions. Combat-ready. Something-ization. If he keeps stressing your military might, his military might be getting ready to march.

3) He helps out less and less at home

Does he insist that you do things he used to be eager to do, like rebuild your infrastructure or combat insurgency? He may be sending a message that he wants you to take out your own trash...permanently.

4) He doesn’t want to talk about you in public

Someone mentions your name, he changes the subject. Where he used to visit all the time and make a public display of spending the holidays together, now he only wants to meet in secret and under the table.

5) "It’s not me, it’s my people"

Heard that one lately? That his lack of attention or dwindling commitment is because of "the polls" or "public opinion"? That’s a classic passive/aggressive exit strategy.

Watch how he responds if his people bad mouth you, too. If he won’t stand up for you verbally, chances are he won’t stick around physically.

6) He hasn’t been the same since the elections

Your friends warned you that he was using you to score political points, but he said he would do anything it takes to be with you, regardless of the consequences. But ever since the votes were counted, it seems like you were voted off Agenda Island.

7) You suspect he’s planning an invasion on the side

Once he told you that you were the only country he wanted to liberate. But lately you keep finding clues that he might be "fighting on multiple fronts." Maybe you uncovered some of his hidden intelligence briefs on another country. Or find some of his seamen conducting maneuvers in a foreign port. Remember: anyone that’s willing to penetrate your national borders at the drop of a hat will probably do it again with someone else.

So what should you do if your stand-up guy is standing up to get his coat and hat? If he’s showing more than a couple of these signs, you may want to let this lame duck fly. Breaking up is hard to do, but there’s a fine line between most favored nation and colonial dependency. Better to be free than beg for freedom.

Be sure to make a clean break. Despite all his efforts to push you away, he may insist on being "friends with privileges." That just means he wants to come over and pump your oil whenever he feels like it.

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