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. Victoria 6760 men's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Blue,Fendi Sneakers Shoes Men FendiScooby Perforated High Top Leather Trainer,Ariat Coniston H2O Boots, Chocolate/Brown, UK 4.5,Altberg Boots AltBerg P1 Peacekeeper Original Black - please select,Aldo Castagna Court - Women Aldo Castagna Courts online on United Kingdom - 11517493JK, Colors of California CHUMANI women's High Boots in Black, Now TORAL women's Casual Shoes in Brown,Gole Metal Saddle Trim Backless Loafer Shoe,Patty - 5.5cm Heel - Nappa Black - UK 6.5Skechers Agility - Victory Won,Biker Style Boot - Black - 7,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - Joya SONJA 2 women's Shoes (Trainers) in multicolour, Betty London FECHINE women's Casual Shoes in Black, Armani jeans ASORITA men's Shoes (Trainers) in Beige,Bonanza (Global) pp413 Elegant high-heeled pump w gold plate top, US Size 1-9.5, VIOLET,Vans Sk8-Hi Trainers All Black,Scarpa Womens Mistral GTX - EU 39,Missoni Boots - Women Missoni Boots online on United Kingdom - Nike WMNS AIR MAX THEA women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Now PIETRA women's High Boots in Black, Ted Baker CASSIUSS men's Casual Shoes in Brown,Ask the Missus Guvnor Brogue CHOC LEATHER,Charles Tyrwhitt Brown Boat Shoe Size 13 R by Charles Tyrwhitt,Nike Skate Boarding Dunk High Premium - RoodJanet & Janet Boots - Women Janet & Janet Boots online on United Kingdom - 11514767SD, Casual Attitude FIANA women's Mid Boots in Belle by Sigerson Morrison BLACKA women's Low Boots in multicolour, Clarks Carleta Lyon women's Low Ankle Boots in BlackThe 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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