A popular game amongst young ne’er-do-wells in the US in the 1950s was “chicken,” in which two drivers drove their cars at rapid speed toward each other. Whichever one veered away first was deemed the “chicken.”
Of course, any sane, mature individual would regard both drivers as not only potentially suicidal, but also extraordinarily stupid. (As can be imagined, the game sometimes ended disastrously.)
At that same time, Adlai Stevenson, who was twice the democratic candidate for president, created the term “brinkmanship,” a term that was defined by John Foster Dulles as quoted in the above image.
Brinkmanship is essentially “chicken,” except that it’s played by men in suits and is potentially far more disastrous.
JFK and the Unspeakabl…
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There’s a general assumption that people in suits and people “in charge” are somehow more rational and/or more intelligent than teenagers who enter into a motorized spitting contest, but this is not the case. The people in suits merely put a better spin on their idiocy and risk the lives of tens of millions in doing so.
Brinkmanship became the byword for US policy toward Russia and, by extension, Cuba.
In an international shoving match that lasted into the 1960s, the US would give Russia a Dulles-inspired shove. The Russians would shove back and so on, each aware that he could not be the first to back down, or, as Mister Dulles said, he would be lost.
This reached its peak in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The USSR shipped missiles with nuclear warheads to Cuba and the US discovered it. President Kennedy blockaded Cuba and, for twelve days, the world lived on the very brink of nuclear war.
Mister Kennedy, of course, brought in the…