Author Biography

Samuel Zilincik is pursuing a PhD in Security and Strategic Studies at Masaryk University and the University of Leiden. He also lectures at the University of Defence in the Czech Republic. His research interests include strategic theory, strategic practice, strategic history and the role of emotions in war. He was one of the winners of the 2020 Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize and the 2018 Strategy Bridge writing contest.



Subject Area Keywords

International relations, International security, Security studies, Strategy, War studies


It is common, though erroneous, to think of rational and emotional decision-making as being opposed to each other. The binary distinction originated in Western philosophy and subsequently spread to other fields, including strategic studies. Strategic studies scholarship has nurtured this binary in two mainstream traditions, classical strategic theory and the coercion school. The distinction is fallacious because all strategically relevant decisions are emotional, and many of these decisions can be rational. Abandoning the false dichotomy is necessary for the field to remain relevant and for strategists to better understand their choices and the decisions made by their adversaries. Accordingly, this article proposes a new way of thinking about the role of emotions in strategic decision-making, one that starts from the appreciation that all strategically relevant choices are emotional.


The author would like to thank Isabelle Duyvesteyn and Jeffrey Michaels for reviewing the earlier versions of the manuscript.