Scenes from many movies illustrate the concept of
brinkmanship. Analyze the following descriptions from this perspective. What
are the risks the two sides face? How do those risks increase during the course
of the execution of the brinkmanship threat?
(a) In the 1980 film The Gods Must Be Crazy, the only
survivor of a rebel team that tried to assassinate the president of an African
country has been captured and is being interrogated. He stands blindfolded with
his back to the open door of a helicopter. Above the noise of the helicopter
rotors, an officer asks him, “Who is your leader? Where is your hideout?” The
man does not answer, and the officer pushes him out of the door. In the next
scene, we see that although its engine is running, the helicopter is actually
on the ground, and the man has fallen 6 feet on his back. The officer appears
at the door and says, laughing, “Next time it will be a little higher.”
(b) In the 1998 film A Simple Plan, two brothers remove
some of a $4.4 million ransom payment that they find in a crashed airplane.
After many intriguing twists of fate, the remaining looter, Hank, finds himself
in conference with an FBI agent. The agent, who suspects but cannot prove that
Hank has some of the missing money, fills Hank in on the story of the money’s
origins and tells him that the FBI possesses the serial numbers of about 1 of
every 10 of the bills in that original ransom payment. The agent’s final words
to Hank are, “Now it’s simply a matter of waiting for the numbers to turn up.
You can’t go around passing $100 bills without eventually sticking in someone’s