the technique or practice of maneuvering a dangerous situation to the limits of tolerance or safety in order to secure the greatest advantage, especially by creating diplomatic crises.
Contemporary Examples

How the Republicans Blew the Payroll Tax Debate John Batchelor December 20, 2011
Mike Lee Has Gone Too Far For Utah Jamelle Bouie October 23, 2013
Gang of 6’s Supercommittee Diss John Avlon August 9, 2011
The Right-Wing is Furious Over Obama’s Imaginary Attack on Military Families Jamelle Bouie December 3, 2013
A Debt Deal Won’t Save Us Daniel Gross October 14, 2013
Is Rafael Correa the Next Hugo Chavez? Mac Margolis August 21, 2013
Government Shutdown? Wall Street Refuses to Panic Daniel Gross September 29, 2013
Full Text and Video of President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address Justin Green February 12, 2013
Team Boehner’s Hypocrisy John Avlon July 25, 2011

Historical Examples

Damned If You Don’t Gordon Randall Garrett

the art or practice of pressing a dangerous situation, esp in international affairs, to the limit of safety and peace in order to win an advantage from a threatening or tenacious foe

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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