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. Desigual BLACK INDIAN BOHO women's Mid Boots in Black,Meindl Journey Lady Mid Gtx - UK 7.5,Tom Ford Draped Leather Booties,R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Boots, Dark Tan Wide H Fit, UK9.5,Altberg Boots AltBerg Base Boot, Ankle Height, MOD Brown - 09.5 medium,Albano Court - Women Albano Courts online on United Kingdom - 11543020NF, Stonefly ROMY 3 women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Paul Joe Sister GALIERA women's Espadrilles / Casual Shoes in Black,Poste Gentile Oxford Brogue TAN LEATHER,Jitterbug - White - UK 8 - 43Dr Keller Orthopedic Touch Close Shoe EUClassic Cheltenham Brogue in Suede,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - Acebo's boot jacket girl or woman women's High Boots in Pitillos DERAIL women's Casual Shoes in Blue, Marc Jacobs CHIC CALF women's Sandals in BlackSo Dancer CH95 - UK 6 - UK 7.5New Balance 1500 GRW - Grijs,Hanwag Banks Lady Wide - UK 5,Moma Boots - Women Moma Boots online on United Kingdom - 11498256CU, Gabor RATA women's Shoes (Trainers) in Lauren Ralph Lauren BELEN women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in Black, Maria Lya Debora Womens Moccasins women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in White,Tamaris Womens Tan Low Heel Ankle BootJoshua Sanders Embroidery Pompom Pinstripe Cotton Loafers,Nike LeBron XI Low - Groen,Jfk Boots - Women Jfk Boots online on United Kingdom - 11546941LC, Missoni XM003 women's Sandals in Multicolour, Victoria DEPORTIVO BASKET PIEL women's Shoes (Trainers) in White, Art HEATHROW women's High Boots 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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