The enemy of my enemy is my friend

I was having a discussion about politics and “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” came up as a reason that someone I know is planning on voting for Trump.

It got me to thinking in a broader sense, what would the Catholic moral tradition have to say about the old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” in relation to politics, war (like WWII partnering with the Soviet Union), etc?

The phrase from what I could find online has been around for quite some time…and do we see it anywhere Biblically as well?

I’d go with it. With 1 small add on: “the enemy of my enemy is my temporary friend”

Right! :thumbsup:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them."

^Church teaching^

Right, but that doesn’t address this at all. This is a deeper question about two parties who have opposite interests in some things but a common interest in another. Would the cooperation to achieve that one goal justify the cooperation with that “enemy” or evil organization/government etc?

The enemy of my enemy is my friend is almost to me like an “ends justifies the means” principle. With varying degrees, for example if the US allied with Al Qaeda in order to take out ISIS is that a cooperation with evil to some degree?

Is allying with Stalin who killed 20 million of his own people in order to take out Hitler cooperating with evil?

Would allying with a group opposed to abortion but in favor of physician assisted suicide be OK?

Depends on a multitude of factors…

But I think if your enemy is “evil” and you can not stop them anyway but a worse group is there and you agree to the goal of a level of cooperation you could be okay…

But you also cannot involve in evil commisions. So if you need to stop a serial murderer you can’t go rob walmart with your theif ally. However if the theif is going to rob walmart wether or not you two work together to fight the serial killer you are only involved in the “good”

I am reminded of the prophesy movie when the humans work in a way with the devil.the humans in the movie had no ability to “fight” the devil persay so there was nothing they did that would defeat or undo any evil the devil might do.

But they were able to use the devil’s assistance to stop a different renegade angel’s plans that would be evil and happened to conflict with the devil’s plans.

I think some wise man once said love your enemies, and also that love is the only power capable of turning enemies into friends. So a good place to start would be to ask why one had enemies in the first place?

Nice :thumbsup:

Again ignoring the heart of the question…change the word from enemy to “someone who disagrees with your values.”

Like I said before…for example: would working with a group who is in favor of physician assisted suicide be OK provided that you have the common goal of ending abortion?

Or would supporting Saddam Hussein who gasses his own people be OK provided you are working with him for the common goal of stopping Al Qaeda?

Thanks…I like the analogy of the serial killer and the thief. So you would say as long as your cooperation with your ally is not ended towards an evil then you should be OK?

It is not just “ended” persay. In the event of nations things are very complex… even in the US we have random elements of government get away with sinfulness. But does that mean no Just person should be our ally?

It is not just the “end” but also the means in which you are involved. It gets very complicated in nations and all but the thing is you should not be participating in any of the evil along the way. Obviously we are talking “known”. If working with Stalin’s forces and you are tricked to believe some peaceful protestors were really Nazis and you engaged that is one thing. But you can’t jump in and help kill some political opponents because it will make it easier for Stalin to help you attack the Nazis even though the “end” may be good.

I don’t think this is the case. We may under no circumstances choose evil as a means even to achieve some good - the ends do not justify the means. We may, however, choose the lesser of two evils if those are the only options. In that case it is not a choice between evil and good, but between a greater evil and a lesser one. We may certainly make the best of a bad situation, and permit as little evil as possible in the circumstances.


In retrospect, especially with regard to Roosevelt, and Stalin, it’s more like “The enemy of my country, is my friend”. I’m finding that our government has a horrid tendency to back true monsters, against petty despots. Saddam Hussein, Bashir Assad, and Mommar Qaddafi, are known as horrible tyrants, however all protected Christians in their countries, and maintained stable governments. Saddam even elevated Christians in his inner circle. Under our own tyrant, the suffering in the middle east is magnified ten fold, and the Christian communities are destroyed utterly. The old saying has, no truth whatsoever.

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