An ally is not a friend. An ally doesn’t even have to like you very much. An ally doesn’t have to support all your goals. They may even dislike some of your goals. An ally can be someone you harmed at some point, or someone who harmed you. An ally can be someone who gave you reasons to distrust them. An ally can be someone you can almost be certain will turn against you at some point. It sounds like these may be reasons not to seek allies, but they are not.
Consider for a moment the alliances between the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States during the Second World War. The Soviet Union had every reason to be distrustful. The US and UK had invaded the Soviet Union less than 30 years earlier and had hardly been friendly since that time. And the Soviets had at one point cooperated with Nazi Germany.
None of these issues was thought a reason that these three nations should not work together. There were common goals that were more important than old wounds. And yes, these alliances started breaking down once common goals were met. The US would override the Quebec Agreement with the 1946 Atomic Energy Act leaving Britain with nothing to show for its contribution to the Manhattan Project. And all possibility of cooperation between the Soviet Union and the west would become impossible after the Berlin Crisis of 1948.
There’s an old saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. I disagree because that’s a terrible way to make friends. But it might be a good way to find allies.
Allies have a few important characteristics:
- They share a goal with you. It can simply be just one goal.
- They have the power to help achieve this goal.
- They are likely to stay motivated until the goal is achieved.
- It is possible to have a respectful discussion with them.
This post isn’t really about WWII strategy, or even alliances in general. I’m actually trying to make a point about WoLF’s recent efforts to reach out to conservative Christian organizations to combat gender identity laws and policies. The progressive lefty types I used to hang out with a couple of years ago, mostly online, do not approve of these efforts. But I like them. They meet all four of the above conditions for potential good allies.
I am especially impressed at how well discussions between radical feminists and conservatives meet condition four, respectful discussion. This recent panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation makes that clear. Compare that with this chaos earlier when one of the women who would later be on the Heritage panel was attacked by members of her own supposed “community”.
The Heritage Foundation has many terrible goals, and I would never recommend being their friend. But I do think they meet all four conditions for being an very effective ally.