“Yes, Prime Minister” on Political Brinksmanship

(Discussing nuclear deterrence of the Soviet Union)

PM Jim Hacker:  I don’t want to obliterate the whole of eastern Europe.

Sir Humphrey Appleby:  It’s a deterrent.

The PM:  It’s a bluff.  I probably won’t use it.

Sir Humphrey:  Yes, but they don’t know that you probably wouldn’t.

The PM:  They probably do.

Sir Humphrey:  Yes, they probably know that you probably wouldn’t.  But they can’t certainly know.

The PM:  They probably certainly know that I probably wouldn’t.

Sir Humphrey:  Yes, but even though they probably certainly know that you probably wouldn’t, they don’t certainly know that, although you probably wouldn’t, there is no probability that you certainly would.

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