The New York Times Magazine
Art Direction: Rachel Willey

In politics, enemies are easier to quarrel with than friends. An opponent disagreeing with you is business as usual. Dissent from someone you expected to be on your side can prove a lot more volatile.

Formal alliances have methods of reining in such tensions. In June, when President Trump unexpectedly canceled military exercises with South Korea, Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, set to work reassuring partners in the region, standing beside Japan’s minister of defense to affirm that “our commitment to this alliance remains ironclad.” And after Trump suggested in an interview this month that the British prime minister, Theresa May, had “wrecked” Brexit, May shelved any resentment she might have held to appear at a joint news conference with the president the next day and declare that her plan would be “very good for both of our countries.”

August 2018