Churchill: The United States will eventually do the right thing, after it has exhausted all other options.
Cruz: The House showed extreme courage in this fight.
Reid: This is not a time to spike the ball.
Boehner: I have said for months that default would be wrong.
Cokie Roberts: We all knew it was going to end this way, but it should never have happened.
Chris Matthews: It is time for all elected representatives to become adult and do the job they were elected to do.
Whomever we listen to or read, this exercise of the last seventeen days in the United States was still a version of brinkmanship or chicken, to use its more perjorative word.
The term "brinkmanship" was originally coined by United States Secretary of State John Foster Dulles during the height of the Cold War. The term came from the political Hungarian theory of pushing the military to the brink of war in order to convince another nation to follow your demands. In an article written in Life Magazine, Dulles defined his policy of brinkmanship as "The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art."  During the Cold War, this was used as a policy by the United States to coerce the Soviet Union into backing down militarily.
In the spectrum of the Cold War, the concept of brinkmanship involved the West and the Soviet Union using fear tactics and intimidation as strategies to make the opposing faction back down. Each party pushed dangerous situations to the brink, with the intention of making the other back down in matters of international politics and foreign policy, to obtain concessions. Nevertheless, in the Cold War both parties were confronted with devastating consequences since the threats of nuclear war were unmanageable in any situation. By escalating threats of nuclear war and massive retaliation, both parties were forced to respond with more force. The principle of this tactic was that each party would prefer not to yield to the other, however one would simply have to yield since if neither of the parties yielded, the outcome would be the worst possible for both. The problem, however, was that yielding would result in being labelled as the weaker of the two and in the Cold War both the Soviet Union and the United States had a reputation to uphold to both their populations and their neighboring countries or allies, thus making brinkmanship utterly risky. Since neither country would budge, the only way to avoid mutually assured destruction (MAD) was compromise. Philosopher Bertrand Russell likened it to the game known as "chicken":
In his new book, The Brothers, Stephen Kinzer, interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air, documents both their view of history (based on a Calvinist background) and their use of brinkmanship, to serve the triumph of the "good" and the defeat of the "bad".
This last two-plus weeks have demonstrated that the United States has not moved very far from how it worked under Eisenhower, only this time the "white nights" (Tea Party) inflicted their Manichean, narcissistic, anti-intellectual and myopically Calvinist world view on their own people in their misguided attempt to "save the government" from Obama, from Obamacare, and one has to assume, from the ravages of big government, that does not cater to their narrow and tight-fisted view .
From the Fresh Air website, and the interview of Stephen Kinzer by Terry Gross, October 16, 2013
The Dulles brothers came from a long line of missionary Calvinists. They grew up in a parsonage; their father was a clergyman; they had missionaries for dinner very often; and they had to go to services every day — three on Sundays — and take notes about the services so that they could discuss the sermons with their father. They sang hymns at home and spent a lot of time in prayer. The particular religious tradition they came out of — Presbyterian Calvinism — was one that did see the world in these two ways: that there were good Christians and then there were heathens and savages. Christians, under this doctrine, did not have the luxury of sitting at home and hoping for the triumph of good; they had to go out into the world and make sure that good triumphed.
When you have that view about your religion, it's a very small step to applying the same schema to politics. You think there are good and evil leaders in the world, good and evil regimes in the world, and this is a very different concept than the concepts that many cultures and many other peoples have. It's a widespread belief in many parts of the world that every person and every government is made up of good and evil impulses, and they come out in different proportions depending on circumstances. But the Dulles brothers didn't believe that. They had grown up in a religious tradition that saw a division between good and evil, and when they came to political power, they saw the world that way.
Inflicting a self-righteous, narrow, and even "holy" (as they conceptualize it) ideology on either the outside world, or the inside world, is a very old approach to public service. The Dulles brothers practiced it under the beneficient and indolent eye of President Eisenhower, until Allan Dulles was finally fired after his one and only project for President John Kennedy, the Bay of Pigs, which was an ugly debacle. His brother John Foster, who had been Secretary of State during the Eisenhower presidency, died in 1959.
Kinzer points out that the Dulles brothers would paint a picture of the dangers they "saw" in a particular country, through the U.S. media, the CIA, under his brother Allan, would then secretly and obviously discreetly conduct covert operations in that country, bring down the government and John Foster would announce that "the people" of that country had succeeded in overturning their government. So in some ways, the Dulles brothers were playing a much higher stakes game than that being played these past two-plus weeks.
However, let's not forget, or gloss over the depth to which the Manichean, Calvinist and self-righteous segment of United States public opinion, and its advocates, has played in U.S. internal and external politics.
And, what is more, it will take a library of books on the theme, as Kinzer's, before the nation will finally come to see the danger that this faction of public opinion continues to pose, as they usurp both God's will (as they see it) and the country's better angels, to advance their increasingly vanishing view of "the good", the "holy" and the "just".