The phrase “Find True North” evokes the idea of movement in the right direction, but sometimes the phrase acquires a more metaphoric meaning of understanding where we are and where we are going. For the fields of Soviet history and post-Soviet studies, the expression is meaningful in both literal and metaphorical senses. In recent years, the number of publications devoted to the history of the Russian North has been growing steadily, although not as spectacularly as the political science works on Arctic geopolitics. Even taken together, however, these studies represent only a small fraction of the scientific literature and media accounts ballooning since the last International Polar Year, held in 2007–2008.
Christopher J. Ward
Donald J. Raleigh
Drawing on historian Frank Costigliola’s accent on the importance of “emotional belief” in understanding how statesmen formulate foreign policy, I apply this cultural approach to diplomacy in considering Soviet leader Leonid Ilich Brezhnev’s personal relationship with President Richard M. Nixon. Appreciating both the merits and difficulties in employing this “soft” methodology to diplomacy, I draw on recently published documents, memoirs, and available archival material to examine the evolution of Brezhnev’s relationship with Nixon at three summit meetings held in Moscow in 1972, in Washington in 1973, and, again in Moscow in 1974, weeks before Nixon’s resignation. I argue that Brezhnev’s emotional belief convinced him of the need to go beyond the evidence to cultivate a personal relationship with Nixon based at first on suspicion, then on cautious courting, and eventually on trust so that Brezhnev could achieve his aims of promoting the cause of peace.
Leaders are often noted to be instrumental in transitional political processes. Yet, most studies in the field bypass them, focusing instead on such factors as institutional setup, level of political culture, geopolitical location, diffusion of ideas and other factors. Even when highlighted, leaders are thought to be acting under the constraint of these arguably more defining factors and therefore relegated to a secondary role. Part of the problem is thought to be difficult to treat individuals as a measurable variable other than being shaped by aforementioned institutional-structural factors. Through a methodological borrowing this study determines that the leadership patterns across the region do vary in a substantial way. More importantly, the variation is determined independent of the overarching institutional-structural factors. The profiling of leadership patterns is followed by discussion of implications such exogenously determined leadership patterns may have on the study of transitional processes.