Many scholars argue that there were two distinct phases of the Cold War. The first was bipolar brinkmanship. The second was multilateral permanent truce.
During the first part of the Cold War, brinkmanship was a policy tool used by the United States to coerce the Soviet Union into backing down militarily. This phase of the Cold War began in Berlin in 1948 and ended with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State from 1953 to 1959, defined brinkmanship as follows:
The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war . . .
In other words, brinkmanship meant going to the brink of war.
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