Keep your enemies close and your friends even closer. This quote from the Godfather seems to contradict perceived wisdom that would dictate you place some distance between an aggressor and yourself. The problem is to know who is your enemy and to question if your friend is really your friend. A new Labour Member of Parliament described the opposition benches as the enemy, but was advised by a wise and experienced Labour MP, “no son the enemy are on this side behind you”. The current civil-war in the Labour Party proves the point. I also have personal experience as an ex-member of the Labour Party when branch meetings were fractious and vicious, with the comrades only too pleased to knife each other in the back. At the same time, as the chief negotiator for my local government union branch, the best industrial relations that we enjoyed was when the Conservative Party won control of the local authority. Just goes to show, beware of presumption.
When it comes to nations and states the situation can be confusing when countries change sides to serve their national interests, and this swing can be like a pendulum. The US and UK have had a stormy relationship ever since the American War of Independence and with the British burning down the White House in the short-lived war of 1812 during the Napoleonic Wars. During the American Civil War the relationship was ambiguous, but since the Great War of 1914-1918 the US and UK have been allies and friends? Except, that during the inter-war years the US adopted a policy of ‘second to none’ and the Washington Naval Treaty ensured parity with the diminution of British naval power. The US had contingency plans for a war against Britain and an aim for the dismantling of the British Empire. The alliance between Japan and Britain, based on naval co-operation, was smashed by the US. Japan an ally in WW1 became an enemy in WW2. During WW2 the US and UK, together with Canada, co-operated in the Manhattan Project for nuclear development of weapons of war. This resulted in the two nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seventy years ago.