Trump, Brexit and the art of political brinkmanship

Demonstrators at a pro-Brexit rally in London last month. British Premier Theresa May is trying hard to make a chaotic no-deal Brexit seem as if it is an inescapable force of nature, says the writer. Yet it seems unlikely she would embrace the chaos
Demonstrators at a pro-Brexit rally in London last month. British Premier Theresa May is trying hard to make a chaotic no-deal Brexit seem as if it is an inescapable force of nature, says the writer. Yet it seems unlikely she would embrace the chaos when, with a stroke of her pen, she could call it all off, he adds. PHOTO: NYTIMES
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Brinkmanship is an old idea, but not such an old word. It was first used in 1956, after then US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles opined that "the ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art... if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost".

Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic presidential nominee, began to use the term "brinkmanship" in response. He did not intend it as a compliment.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2019, with the headline Trump, Brexit and the art of political brinkmanship. Subscribe