Is your country's enemy YOUR enemy?

Inspired by the thread about whether a movie favoring the view of one of America’s enemies would be legal to show. I made a comment in the thread saying that I had trouble believing it was a real question, which generated a couple of comments. People assumed that I was questioning that anyone could reasonably believe that free speech would be so restricted.

That was a part of it, sure, but I was really reacting to the OP seemingly personalizing the idea of America’s enemy being HIS enemy, or more accurately THE enemy. I took that to mean he took ISIS or whoever as his enemies too.

That identification with the US, that its friends or enemies were mine – I’ve never, ever felt that. I’m not sure why – perhaps because I grew up during the Vietnam era when it seemed to me that American had conjured the North Vietnamese as an enemy. And it has seemed largely the same to me since – that American has created these enemies for some political reasons rather than, er, maybe “discovered” them? Or that America has been reaping some of the consequences of what its own actions have sewn.

So I wonder how common the sense of mine is?

It would depend on the basis for the country’s enmity.

That would be a “no”. You pick your enemies for yourself, your country doesn’t do it for you.

The enemy of my friend of a friend’s enemy is my friend.

ETA attribution: Samuel Clemens

With friends of friends of enemies like you, who needs enemies of friends of enemies?

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. The enemies of your friends you stand on top of.


Is this a poll, or a lecture? Afghanistan was my enemy because it harbored bin Laden, and our government decided that it should not do so. But lots of other countries harbored bin Laden before that and we did not decide that they were our enemy even though he was already attacking American targets (like the USS Cole).

No, this is a definition of terms. Perhaps my poll should have been clearer, but the question I intended to ask was, “If your country designates an enemy, does that make the designated party your enemy?”

I look at this problem two ways. First, all the people we tend to categorize as “enemies” seem to have some pretty legitimate reasons for doing so. For example, one can make an excellent argument that US antagonism towards places like Iran and Cuba justifies, or at least explains, their antagonism towards us. But the leaders of Iran and Cuba aren’t* good* people by any conceivable standard. I believe I would be completely justified in hating them and everything they stand for, even absent a broader political conflict.

Second point: It’s my job to fight wars, so even if I did not bear them any ill will personally, I’m still going to kick their teeth in as hard as I can.

I answered no because it’s the best fit of the two options, but my no is certainly nothing like the OP’s version of no.

The idea that all of these enemies have been created for political purposes is ridiculous, unless you construe “protecting America” to be a political purpose. Not all of these enemies needed to be engaged in combat, and we might have conducted the combat is a better way… there’s lots of nuances to discuss, but countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and North Vietnam were not manufactured enemies. (Now, were legitimate conflicts played up for political purposes? Sure. But they weren’t created for that purpose.)

Anyway, if America is at war with a country, then it’s only “my enemy” to the extent that we have a dispute that needs to be resolved, and that I will not undercut my own country’s efforts to be victorious. Maybe the OP sees that as a yes vote?

But I still vote no. The war isn’t a personal issue. The country isn’t my personal enemy, it is the enemy of a country to which I am loyal. Furthermore, I would show sympathy to individual citizens of the enemy country, at least to the extent that doing so doesn’t undermine the overall war effort. We’re in it to win a strategic objective, not to hear the lamentations of their women, after all. If we can achieve one country’s strategic objective against another without hurting individual people, then I’m all for it. Real life isn’t that neat, of course.

No, man. They’ll give you a gun and train you in its use. To kick in teeth you need to get waaaay too close.

I like to think that I’m EVERYONE’S enemy.

As the author of that thread - no, I don’t consider America’s enemies to be my personal enemies.

I simply have no sense of patriotism at all about “my country”, which happens to be the USA, for the purposes of this discussion. I don’t believe the people of any nation (not even my own) have a natural entitlement to well-being which justifies my effort to shift such a balance.

I do not feel that I am personally under any threat at all that might be engineered by any alien forces, there is no need to “defend” anything American from anything else that might not be. My country just has no enemies. If anything, my country is the enemy of pretty much the rest of the world, which would just as soon be left alone, except for a few old cultures that have axes to grind, with mo more historical culpability than our own.

Which side would you fight for? Your countries or your countries enemies?

Or stand on the sidelines and cheer for the winner?

Really need a ‘it depends’ option. I picked ‘yes’, but it really depends. Many of my countries enemies would try to kill me or mine…which, you know, precludes any sort of deep friendship potential. The US, where I live, has few nation states that they outright declare as enemies (I think even North Korea and Iran are just labeled as ‘unfriendly’ or ‘hostile’, not ‘enemies’)…most groups labeled that way are terrorist groups, and I think I’m safe in saying that they are the enemies of most people who aren’t terrorists. Certainly I’d have to go with them being unfriendly, at best.

Exactly. There are circumstances of both in recent history. The Second Gulf War was a really bad war, and Saddam Hussein was not “my” enemy then (although he was in the First Gulf War.) ISIS is very definitely my personal enemy. But, for the last thirty years at least, Fidel Castro was not.

It’s complicated, but in general no.

Take Iran, for example. The Iranian government hates the US government, or at least holds it up as a bogeyman in order to keep itself in power. But ordinary Iranians, by and large, don’t harbor anywhere near as much ill will towards Americans, if any at all. So I don’t harbor ill will towards them, either. And I think any nation full of people who despise me just because my address includes “USA” has been fed a steady diet of misinformation by a totalitarian government bent on maintaining control over its populace by keeping them in fear and/or anger, so I wouldn’t hate them so much as feel bad for them.

In other words…I don’t hate the players, I hate the game.

Improbable that I’d actually engage in combat, but if I had to support one side or the other engaged in war, it would be whichever one I thought was morally justified . In most cases I can think of, that would be to defend its own homeland from alien invaders. There has not been a conflict in my lifetime in which I would support the position of my own country, since my country has never been placed at risk of any sustained attack or occupation.

Interesting. Assuming that you’re American (correct me if not,) do you think Saddam should have been allowed to keep Kuwait after he invaded and captured it, and that the United States shouldn’t have reacted to 9/11 with a military response?
(These aren’t rhetorical questions; I’m serious.)