Word of the day

The word for today is…

brinkmanship (noun) – The practice, especially in international politics, of seeking advantage by creating the impression that one is willing and able to push a highly dangerous situation to the limit rather than concede.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : Also brinksmanship, with unetymological -s- and construction based on salesmanship, sportsmanship, etc.; from 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 from Dulles’ philosophy as outlined in a magazine interview [with Time-Life Washington bureau chief James Shepley] early 1956:

The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art. If you cannot master it, you inevitably get into war. If you try to run away from it, if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost.

The quote was widely criticized by the Eisenhower Administration’s opponents, and the first attested use of brinkmanship seems to have been in such a context, a few weeks after the magazine appeared, by Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson criticizing Dulles for “boasting of his brinkmanship, … the art of bringing us to the edge of the nuclear abyss.”


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Peter is a fourth generation New Zealander, with both his mothers and fathers folks having arrived in New Zealand in the 1870’s. He lives in Lower Hutt with his wife, two cats and assorted computers.

His work history has been in the timber, banking and real estate industries, and he’s now enjoying retirement. He has been interested in computers for over thirty years and is a strong advocate for free open source software. He is Chairman of the SeniorNet Hutt City Committee.

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