Brinkmanship

The handling of the Cuban missile crisis was described as brinkmanship

Brinkmanship (or brinksmanship) is the practice of pushing dangerous events to the verge of disaster in order to achieve the most advantageous outcome. It occurs in international politics, foreign policy, labour relations, and (in contemporary settings) military strategy involving the threatened use of nuclear weapons.

This manoeuvre of pushing a situation with the opponent to the brink succeeds by forcing the opponent to back down and make concessions. This might be achieved through diplomatic maneuvers by creating the impression that one is willing to use extreme methods rather than concede. During the Cold War, the threat of nuclear force was often used as such an escalating measure. Adolf Hitler also used brinkmanship conspicuously during his rise to power.

Contents

Origins

Brinkmanship is the ostensible escalation of threats in order to achieve one's aims. Originally the term brinkmanship was coined by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles under the Eisenhower administration, during the Cold War. Eventually, the threats involved might become so huge as to be unmanageable at which point both sides are likely to back down. This was the case during the Cold War; the escalation of threats of nuclear war, if carried out, are likely to lead to mutual assured destruction.

Dangers

The dangers of brinkmanship as a political or diplomatic tool can be understood as a slippery slope: In order for brinkmanship to be effective, the threats used are continuously escalated. However, a threat is not worth anything unless it is credible; at some point, the aggressive party may have to back up its claim to prove its commitment to action.

The chance of things sliding out of control is also often used as a tool of brinkmanship, because it can provide credibility to an otherwise incredible threat. The Cuban Missile Crisis presents an example in which opposing leaders, namely John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, continually issued warnings, with increasing force, about impending nuclear exchanges, without necessarily validating their statements. Pioneering game theorist Thomas Schelling called this "the threat that leaves something to chance."[1]

The British intellectual Bertrand Russell compared nuclear brinkmanship to the game of chicken.[2] The principle between the two is the same, to create immense pressure in a situation until one person or party backs down, or both are annihilated.

See also

References

  1. ^ Schelling, Thomas, The Strategy of Conflict, copyright 1960, 1980, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674840313.
  2. ^ Russell, Bertrand W. (1959) Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare London: George Allen & Unwin, p30: "Since the nuclear stalemate became apparent, the governments of East and West have adopted the policy which Mr. Dulles calls 'brinksmanship.' This is a policy adapted from a sport which, I am told, is practiced by some youthful degenerates. This sport is called 'Chicken!'"

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Brinkmanship — (engl. für „Spiel mit dem Feuer“ oder „Politik am Rande des Abgrunds“) bezeichnet in der Spieltheorie eine riskante Strategie bei Verhandlungen. Der Spieler geht mit dem Gegenspieler zur Klärung einer Streitfrage sinnbildlich bis an den Rand… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • brinkmanship — also brinksmanship, with parasitic s , from BRINK (Cf. brink) (the image of the brink of war dates to at least 1840). Associated with the policies advocated by John Foster Dulles (1888 1959), U.S. Secretary of State 1953 1959. The word springs… …   Etymology dictionary

  • brinkmanship — UK US /ˈbrɪŋkmənʃɪp/ noun [U] (also brinksmanship) ► the activity, especially in politics, of trying to get what you want by saying that if you do not get it, you will do something that could be harmful or dangerous: »The Congress and Senate have …   Financial and business terms

  • brinkmanship — rink man*ship, brinksmanship rinks man*ship . [brink + manship. (1956).] the policy or practise of pushing a dangerous situation to the brink of disaster (to the limits of safety), in order to achieve the most advantageous outcome; used… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • brinkmanship — UK [ˈbrɪŋkmənˌʃɪp] / US or brinksmanship UK [ˈbrɪŋksmənˌʃɪp] / US noun [uncountable] the act of deliberately taking risks and making a situation as bad as it can be in order to force a particular result …   English dictionary

  • brinkmanship — (US also brinksmanship) ► NOUN ▪ the pursuit of a dangerous policy to the limits of safety before stopping …   English terms dictionary

  • brinkmanship — ☆ brinkmanship [briŋks′mən ship΄briŋk′mən ship΄ ] n. [ BRINK + MANSHIP] the policy of pursuing a hazardous course of action to the brink of catastrophe: also brinksmanship [briŋks′mən ship΄] …   English World dictionary

  • Brinkmanship — A negotiating technique in which one party aggressively pursues a set of terms ostensibly to the point at which the other party in the negotiation must either agree or halt negotiations. Brinkmanship is so named because one party pushes the other …   Investment dictionary

  • brinkmanship — [[t]brɪ̱ŋkmənʃɪp[/t]] N UNCOUNT Brinkmanship is a method of behaviour, especially in politics, in which you deliberately get into dangerous situations which could result in disaster but which could also bring success. [JOURNALISM] A game of… …   English dictionary

  • brinkmanship — noun Pursuit of an advantage by appearing to be willing to risk a dangerous policy rather than concede a point. The diplomat accused the other nations leader of brinkmanship for refusing to redeploy the troops along their nations shared border …   Wiktionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.