Publication details

Why the "fear, honour and interest" trinity harms our understanding of war



Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source The RUSI Journal
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Keywords Fear; Honour; Interest; Thucydides; Emotion
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Description While the ‘fear, honour and interest’ trinity is immensely popular, it is also fallacious. Samuel Zilincik discusses how the trinity is not a neutral analytical tool but rather a rhetorical instrument to advocate foreign aggression. It conveys an incomplete picture of war causation by focusing on the aggressor’s motivation while ignoring that of the defender. It also insufficiently explains motivations for hostile behaviour by omitting salient stimuli and the variance of emotional motives across cultures. Through its popularity, the trinity also detracts attention from truly insightful observations that Thucydides made in his work. Zilincik suggests that going beyond the trinity is essential to enhancing knowledge of strategic affairs.
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