Keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Meaning with example

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

Where did ‘keep your friends close, and enemies closer’ come from? What does it mean?

Sun Tzu is credited with the expression, “Keep your friends close; and keep your enemies closer.” By default, our friends stay close. Our enemies can grow more intimate. A good example of this is that Abraham Lincoln employed this expression in his cabinet, including solid political adversaries. Lincoln was also quoted saying, “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make them a friend.”

Being aware of your enemy’s proximity is a sign that you know how the enemy is planning to do. Understanding enemy movements helps to ensure that you’re always ahead of him. An Indian proverb also says the same thing as Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. An excellent example to illustrate this is’ Always be sure to keep the person who is always a critic close to you.’ Since their role is to critique you, they’ll expose every single flaw within you.

In this way, you will enhance your self-esteem and become more pure and clean instead of using water and soap.

Is it smart to keep your enemies close?

Allies are usually the most unhelpful when it comes to analysing your thoughts. If your adversaries are close, it’s much easier for your partners to collaborate. Additionally, your colleagues could have as much trouble with you as you do, which is the reason why you’re allies. There is an additional element in the Godfather quote. But sometimes, keeping enemies close may prove detrimental.

Why to heep your friends close and your enemies closer?

The famous author “Michael Corleone” said, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” The meaning of the quote wasn’t just that you need to be aware of your adversaries. It’s a simple meaning but what makes this quote so powerful is the other way it functions. By drawing a direct parallel in how one treats one’s friends and enemies, the speaker insists that one must treat enemies just as they treat their acquaintances, and perhaps more.

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That is not only because one needs to be aware of their enemies, which is the case, but for the more fundamental reason, that one doesn’t want to let their enemies know they are enemies. That is the reason it means to keep your enemies close to one’s family members.

That is why that this quotation has firmly enshrined itself into the human mind. No of the works of earlier authors comes near to making this connection.

The Godfather Part 2 example

The quote comes taken from “The Godfather, Part II”. The quote was written to accompany the screenplay for the film. It’s certainly not a relic of the past in the sense that anyone can prove it. It will remind you that similar ideas have been formulated throughout the ages but not in the same manner. For instance, in “The Prince”, Machiavelli discusses the need for future princes to be more attentive to their enemies rather than their acquaintances. However, in the context, Machiavelli is talking about the possibility of winning old enemies over in your favor, not being close enough to watch their actions. Some quotes have been discovered that state things like “listen to your enemies. They’re the first to notice your faults” or “love your enemies”. However, I’ve not seen an earlier quote from the Godfather series that suggests that you keep your adversaries close to you to gain an advantage. Most likely, this particular phrase originated with the Puzo/Coppola.


Make sure your family and friends are close and your adversaries closer. It is often attributable to Sun Tzu and sometimes to Niccolo Machiavelli or Petrarch. However, there aren’t any published sources that date back to the use of this phrase. “Michael Corleone” in The Godfather Part II (1974) composed by Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola: “My father taught me a lot of things in this room -and he taught me within this space. He taught me how to keep your friends close but keep your enemies close.”

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