Carlos Barria / REUTERS Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to U.S. President Donald Trump during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 2017.

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The Real Opportunity Behind the Media Spectacle

By Michael Kimmage

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MICHAEL KIMMAGE is Professor of History at the Catholic University of America and the author of The Decline of the West: An American Story. From 2014 to 2016, he served on the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State, where he held the Russia/Ukraine portfolio.

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet for a frenetically anticipated summit on July 16 in Helsinki. Their encounter—coming amid cascading revelations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, unnerving questions about Trump’s admiration for his Russian counterpart, and U.S.-Russian tensions around the globe—is certain to be a media spectacle. But as its location subtly implies, the real importance of the meeting may have little to do with the theatrics at the top. Unglamorous, largely unnoticed diplomatic processes could prove more consequential. In Helsinki in 1975, the United States, the Soviet Union, and various European powers devised a security architecture for Europe that was controversial at the time but ultimately crucial to the Cold War’s peaceful end. Without the Helsinki Accords, which fostered agreement on Europe’s borders and enshrined a nominal commitment to human rights in the Eastern bloc, the revolutions of 1989 may never have come and almost certainly would not have been as peaceful as they were. Globe - men's Skate Shoes (Trainers) in BeigePolo Ralph Lauren Sneakers Shoes Men Polo Ralph Lauren,Bonanza (Global) ps379 sweet fancy leather strappy ankle sandals, extra size, US Size 3-10, white,Dubarry Galway ExtraFit Boots, Walnut, EU47 (UK12),Altberg Boots AltBerg Tabbing Boot Black - 11.5 mediumAlima Court - Women Alima Courts online on United Kingdom - 11537867JJ, Paco Gil MARIE women's Mid Boots in Red, Victoria SNEAKER NEOPRENO women's Shoes (Trainers) in Red,Fendi High Heel Shoes Shoes Women Fendi,919 - 60 Satin Bronze 6cm Heel - UK 3.5,Rockport Bennet lane Cape Noble VenetianCLEO B SUEDE SHAPED COURTSergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - 44814734RS, Marc by Marc Jacobs CUTE KIDS MINI TOTO PLAID women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Nike ROSHE TWO BR W women's Shoes (Trainers) in Purple, Converse ALL STAR OX women's Shoes (Trainers) in Red,28010 - Black - UK 12.5Miss L Fire Bernie Colour: Black, Size: EU 38,Rugby Factory Shop Gilbert Evo MK 2 Rugby Boot Orange - UK 10,Nila & Nila Boots - Women Nila & Nila Boots online on United Kingdom - 11474442MX, Argenta 52396 women's Court Shoes in Wildflower Shore women's Sandals in Black, Etnies KINGPIN men's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,Manuel Barcelò Moabit Round Run Ankle BoatChatham Marine Galley Deck Shoe Navy Yachting and Sailing Shoe - Galley Deck Shoe Navy 46/12,Nike Kobe 7 Systems SS - ZilverL' Autre Chose Boots - Women L' Autre Chose Boots online on United Kingdom - 11489637PE, Calzamedi SHOES STRETCH LEATHER W women's Casual Shoes in Gabor Indiana Womens Casual Pumps women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Stuart Weitzman CADENA women's Sandals in Beige,The lessons of that previous U.S.-Russian encounter in Helsinki are worth remembering now. The agreement that resulted involved years of drab, painstaking diplomacy. It required agonizing compromise on both sides. It rested on work rather than optics. Under the shadow of low expectations, a difficult process preceded final success. The summit’s real importance, in other words, had little to do with momentary media spectacle. The same could be true of next week’s Trump-Putin meeting.

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