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. Stonefly SPEEDY LADY 1 RT women's Shoes (Trainers) in Other,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Leather High - White Monochrome Size: 5,Bonanza (Global) pp391 Sweet bowtie block heel pumps, US Size 4-10, red,Dubarry Tipperary Boots, Walnut, UK 10 (EU44),Altberg Boots AltBerg Warrior Microlite MkII, MOD Brown - 11 mediumVia Roma 15 Boots - Women Via Roma 15 Boots online on United Kingdom - 11037266BK, Ash MATRIX women's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue, New Balance BORACAY men's Running Trainers in Yellow,Church's Oxford Shoes Shoes Women Church's,Claudia - 5.5cm Heel - Suede Black - UK 9,Rockport Ledge Hill Too Plain OxfordG.H Bass Bass Weejun Penny Strap BLACK LEATHER,Rodolphe Menudier Boots - Women Rodolphe Menudier Boots online on United Kingdom - Vivienne Westwood HIGH TRAINER men's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Blue, Premiata M2952 women's Court Shoes in Red, Menbur LANTEIRA women's Sandals in Orange,Bonanza (Global) pp412 Elegant high-heeled pump decorated w pearls, US Size 4-8.5, black,Barbour Mens Readhead Boots, Dark Brown, 6Nike Class of '97 Pack - Wit,Manas Boots - Women Manas Boots online on United Kingdom - 11512951WU, Spiral MARTA women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Cristiano Ronaldo CR7 GOTHIC men's Mid Boots in Brown, Now CALOPORO women's High Boots in Black,Superga 2950 COTU 5 (EU 38) Blue,Bonanza (Global) Casual Shoes Women,Nike Wmns Air Max 90 DMB QS - Roze,Prestige Brogue - Rubber Sole - Black, Alpe 3379 11 women's Low Ankle Boots in Les Tropéziennes par M Belarbi LEONE women's Slip-ons (Shoes) in Black, Anaki VICKY women's Court Shoes in BlueThe 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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