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. Hunter Women's Original Short Gloss women's Wellington Boots in Black,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Leather High - White Monochrome Size: 7,Birkenstock Two Tone Arizona Sandal Black,Dubarry Galway ExtraFit Boots, Walnut, EU46 (UK11),Altberg Boots AltBerg Warrior Microlite MkII, MOD Brown - 13 medium,A.Testoni Court - Women A.Testoni Courts online on United Kingdom - 11548682DE, Bunker TAYLOR women's Mid Boots in Black, Heyraud SOLENTA women's Low Ankle Boots in GreyClarks Desert Boot Sand Size: 7.5 UK G / 41.5 EU,Nueva Epoca - Angeles - UK 6,Knott avonride Knott Left Side 203X40 Complete Backplate Can Be Modified For Lockheed 8 Drum,Riding Style Boot - Tan - 5,Sartore Boots - Women Sartore Boots online on United Kingdom - Betty London HODA women's High Boots in Black, Freelance HEEPHY 9 women's Low Boots in Black, CallagHan BEAR men's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue,BatzShop Batz FC10 - red - EU 36 - UK 3.5,Dubarry Navigator Deck Shoes, Navy, UK10.5Nike Wmns Rosherun Print - Roze,Marian Boots - Women Marian Boots online on United Kingdom - 11496812SA, Converse ALL STAR SAWYER OX men's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Felmini NAMADIA women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in Brown, Gabor Splendid Womens High Heel Court Shoes women's Court Shoes in BlackSuperga 2790 LINEA UP DOWN 5.5 (EU 39) White,Marks and Spencer M&S Collection Luxury Leather Brogue Shoes,Puma Trinomic Disc n Calm - Zwart,I'm Isola Marras Boots - Women I'm Isola Marras Boots online on United Kingdom - 11467436LF, Marc Jacobs SAHARA CALF women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Brown, Casual Attitude FIORINA men's Mid Boots in Tom Tailor RAULNATE men's Casual Shoes in Brown,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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