Who are our “friends” (speaking about The United States)? Is the enemy of my enemy my friend? Is the friend of my enemy also my enemy? Can a country be a friend to both me and my enemy?

These are interesting questions these days, when countries around the world are interacting with each other, and their own people, regarding trade, national defense and their ways of doing business in general.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” is an ancient proverb which suggests that otherwise unfriendly parties can, or should, work together against a common enemy.

The earliest known expression of this concept is found in a book called the Arthashastra (ARTH-A-SHAS-TRA), which dates to around the 4th century BC.

The Arthashastra is an ancient Indian book on matters of state, economic policy and military strategy, and likely to be the work of several authors over the centuries.

The title “Arthashastra” is often translated into “The science of politics.”

So anyway, is the enemy of my enemy my friend?

The answer is “for the time being,” “as long as it’s necessary,” “as long as it’s convenient’” “sometimes,” “it depends,” yes,” and “no.”

Ha! Very little is “black and white” in this world.  The matter of political “friendships” is definitely no exception.

The Soviet Union (Russia, these days), during World War II, is a perfect example of “as long as it’s necessary.” The ONLY thing that drew us together as allies was our common enemy (Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler). As soon as Germany was defeated our alliance evaporated like a small puddle in the middle of summer.

In The Middle East, we have befriended Iraq versus Iran, then Iran versus Iraq, and then back again to Iraq versus Iran. In these cases, we were usually siding with the lesser of two evils.

There is another old saying, “Time heals all wounds,” that is applicable in a lot of these relationships as well. This saying may even have origins predating the other one.

There are a couple of examples here that are quite interesting.

First, let’s take a look at Japan and the U.S. Japan surprise attacked us at Pearl Harbor, we fought a bitter war against them, and then we dropped two atomic bombs on them.  You would think that the relationship between our countries would be irreparable.  Yet, here we are, sixty years later, and we have a pretty good, if not good, relationship with Japan.

Secondly, how about Germany!? Germany: the country that committed innumerable atrocities all across Europe, were responsible for The Holocaust, and were responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of other people.  Surely this relationship could never be repaired.  Yet, here we are, sixty years later, and we have a very good relationship with Germany.

It’s actually pretty amazing how time has healed these massive wounds. I’m sure, at the time, no one could have envisioned where we are now, relation-wise, with these countries.

I guess as people grow old and die, and the next generation assumes its place in history, memories fade. And the more time that goes by, the hazier history becomes.  That is why, in many cases, we are doomed to repeat it.

Many of our “friends” around the world are only friends of convenience, or better yet, “friends with benefits.”

Many, if not all, of our international “friends” have been taking advantage of us, our “good heartedness,” and in many cases the stupidity of our politicians,” for many, many, many years.

As President Trump attempts to make international trade fair, or at least fairer, we will see which countries are interested in having a good relationship with us.

In the end, we really shouldn’t be in the business of making friends, however.  We should be in the business of earning respect, and with being treated honorably and fairly.

trump giving country back resized

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