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. Rieker VIKY women's Mid Boots in Brown,Peter Kaiser MARABELLA PETER KAISER LADIES LONG BOOT Size: 7.5,Shake Shoes - Dark Tan - Extra Wide Fit - 7,Le Chameau Mens Vierzon Jersey Lined Wellingtons, Noir, EU43 (UK 9),Altberg Boots AltBerg Sneeker MkII MOD Brown - 09 medium,Alexander Mcqueen Court - Women Alexander Mcqueen Courts online on United Kingdom - 11466461GG, Romika Karia 10 women's Slippers in Black, Ted Baker TAKIL women's Low Ankle Boots in Grey,ECCO 570114 COFFEE 570114-05072 DALAS MOC COFFEE Size: 40, Colour: COFVans Mono Leather SK8-HI Reissue V - True White UK Shoe Size: 9,Hi-Tec V-Lite Rio Quest I Mens Shoe,VANS CA CROC PRT SK8 HI ZIP,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - 11231552PO, Irregular Choice ASCOT women's Court Shoes in Silver, Camper PEU CAMI women's Casual Shoes in Brown, Chie Mihara MANDY women's Sandals in BrownRV 805 - Wide Fit - Black - UK 7Men's Brown Leather Hudson Oxford Toe Cap Shoe,G.H Bass Weejun Logan Grain Penny WINE LEATHER,Nila & Nila Boots - Women Nila & Nila Boots online on United Kingdom - 11473465UW, Sebastian CAMOSCIO women's Sandals in Clarks ORINOCO ART women's Mid Boots in Brown, Stéphane Kelian OPERA women's Sandals in multicolour,Skechers Womens Grey Slip On Sporty Shoe,Hargroves Cycles Specialized Women's Riata Mountain Bike Shoes,Puma Trinomic Disc - Oranje,L.P.R. Boots - Women L.P.R. Boots online on United Kingdom - 11563925RT, See by Chloé FLAROL women's Espadrilles / Casual Shoes in adidas ZX FLUX EM men's Shoes (Trainers) in The Cassette THE BOBI women's Shoes (Trainers) in White,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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