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. Alpe 3204 11 women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in BeigeConverse Chuck Taylor All Star Oxford - Black Monochrome Size: 10 UKMephisto 'HELEN' Black Patent - 35,Dubarry Cork Boots, Cigar, UK 7 (EU41),Altberg Boots AltBerg Sneeker MkII Black - 11.5 medium,Alberta Ferretti Court - Women Alberta Ferretti Courts online on United Kingdom - Pikolinos SANTANDER W4J women's Mid Boots in Lotus BREEZE women's High Boots in Black,ECCO 221003 221003-50148 UKIUK/SLATE Size: 40, Colour: SLATE,569 - 60 Suede Black 6cm heel - Suede Black - UK 4.5Rockport Ledge Hill Plain Toe,Ladies Duchess Sheepskin Slippers Grey Embossed Leopard UK Size 3/4,Sara López Boots - Women Sara López Boots online on United Kingdom - 11529566BD, adidas TUBULAR SHADOW men's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue, Rieker DAGDA women's High Boots in Black, Element PRESTON men's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Black,Aphrodite 2.75 Heel - Black - UK 6.5Ethletic Fairtrade Trainers - Urban Grey,Saucony Shadow 6000 X A.R.C - Rood,Maria Cristina Boots - Women Maria Cristina Boots online on United Kingdom - Chipie JERBY women's Shoes (Trainers) in Geox D PRESTYN women's Mid Boots in Clarks GLICK SHINE women's Casual Shoes in Brown,Superga 2790 LINEA UP DOWN 7.5 (EU 41.5) Full Black,Marks and Spencer M&S Collection Wide Fit Leather Wedge Ruched Ankle BootsNike Free Flyknit NSW - Blauw,Portwest Steelite All Weather Hiker Boot S3 Black / Size Ted Baker PEETCH women's Court Shoes in Grey, Saucony Sneaker Jazz in brown suede and nylon men's Shoes (Trainers) in Brown, Pataugas BANJOU/M women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Silver,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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