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. Gola HARRIER women's Shoes (Trainers) in BlackConverse Chuck Taylor All Star Leather High - White Monochrome Size: 1,Langstan Scallop Outsole Mule SandalDubarry Kildare Boots, Walnut, UK 5 (EU38),Altberg Boots AltBerg Warrior Microlite MkII, Black - 13.5 medium,Alberto Fermani Court - Women Alberto Fermani Courts online on United Kingdom - 11577100JO, Church's BLACK PEMBREY LOAFER men's Loafers / Casual Shoes in Black, Vans ISO 3 MTE men's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,Adidas originals WMNS Stan Smith Bold Mid Sneakers,Charleston - Black/white - UK 12 & UK12.5 - EU 49 - US 13.5,Diadora V7000 X Hanon - Oranje,Biker Style Boot - Tan - 7,Scervino Boots - Women Scervino Boots online on United Kingdom - 11544413GC, Irregular Choice RUBY ENVELOPE women's Court Shoes in Betty London HERINE women's High Boots in Blue, Kroc CHAROL NUBUCK women's Low Ankle Boots in Black,Nueva Epoca - Buenos Aires - Nappa Black/White - UK 9,Dr Martens 3 Eye Classic Gibson Red,Nike Roshe LD - 1000 QS - GeelMaison Margiela Boots - Women Maison Margiela Boots online on United Kingdom - 11430494AP, Betty London NATUR women's Low Ankle Boots in Black, Geox D SHAHIRA women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Papucei RAISA women's Low Ankle Boots in Black,Superga 2950 COTU 10 (EU 44.5) White,Bonanza (Global) New Handmade Monk Double Strap Leather Shoes, Men Dress Shoes, Formal Shoes,Nike Skate Boarding Zoom Stefan Janoski - ZwartImac Boots - Women Imac Boots online on United Kingdom - 11548297PH, Nike JUVENATE W women's Shoes (Trainers) in Pink, Mjus LIVNO women's Low Ankle Boots in Calzamedi comfortable double women's Casual Shoes in Multicolour,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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