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. Refresh OCEANA women's Low Boots in Brown,Vagabond Grace Heeled Chelsea DARK OLIVE NUBUCK,Hype Bow And Coin Trim Unlined Ballerina Shoe,Dubarry Galway Boots, Walnut, EU46 (UK11)Knott Left Side 203X40 Complete Backplate Assembly Brake Shoes -Ifor Williams,Alberta Ferretti Court - Women Alberta Ferretti Courts online on United Kingdom - 11305752KR, Sperry Top-Sider SEACOAST SEAWEED PRINT women's Shoes (Trainers) in Multicolour, Nike AIR MAX ZERO women's Shoes (Trainers) in Brown,Hogan H323 Maxi Wedge Fringed Loafers,Nueva Epoca - Cecila - UK 7,R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Boots, Chestnut Regular G Fit, UK10,Dr. Martens 3 Eyelet Shoe BLACK VIRGINIA,Roger Vivier Boots - Women Roger Vivier Boots online on United Kingdom - Diadora N9000 NYLON II women's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue, Caterpillar COLORADO men's Mid Boots in Rockport comfortable boots for women. women's Low Boots in BlackMeindl Philadelphia GTX Womens - UK 6.5,Dubarry Navigator Deck Shoes, Navy, UK11,Nike Skate Boarding Zoom Stefan Janoski - ZwartManila Grace Denim Boots - Women Manila Grace Denim Boots online on United Kingdom - 11521221ER, Casadei ELEANORE women's Sandals in Missoni RM19 women's Sandals in Blue, Buffalo BETHANY women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Red,Superga 2950 COTU 8.5 (EU 42.5) Grey Sage,Bonanza (Global) Painted converse shoes, Prince, When doves cry, 1999, Handpainted shoes, Gift,Nike Wmns Air Max 90 Essential - ZwartHundred 100 Boots - Women Hundred 100 Boots online on United Kingdom - 11515106UU, FitFlop LOAFF SNUG SLIPPERS women's Clogs (Shoes) in Esprit AMARIS SLIDE women's Mules / Casual Shoes in Beige, Regard RUMALI women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in BeigeThe 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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