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. Palladium PALLASIDER HIKR MID men's Mid Boots in BlackHogan Women's Hogan Ankle Boots,Skechers Womens Grey Lightweight Sporty Shoe,Dubarry Galway ExtraFit Boots, Walnut, EU40 (UK6.5),Altberg Boots AltBerg Warrior Microlite MkII, MOD Brown - 11 mediumAlbano Court - Women Albano Courts online on United Kingdom - 11465391KD, Felmini CLARA women's Mid Boots in Black, Bunker SARA women's Mid Boots in Brown,Cortica Hercule Slip On (m) GREY KNITAduo 1.5 Heel - Silver - UK 4,Crocs Yukon Sport Mens Clog,Swedish Hasbeens Plateau Slip In BLACK LEATHER,Roberto Botticelli Boots - Women Roberto Botticelli Boots online on United Kingdom - 11251106VI, Pollini PA2611 women's High Boots in Black, Converse CHUCK TAYLOR ALL STAR FASHION SNAKE HI NATURAL/BLACK/WHITE women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Dream in Green GOLESTA women's Mid Boots in Grey,Ted Baker Mirobell Strappy Heel BLACK LEATHER,Dubarry Navigator Deck Shoes, Chestnut, UK7,Jordan Super.Fly 5 - Zwart,Marc Ellis Boots - Women Marc Ellis Boots online on United Kingdom - Robert Clergerie GUMI women's Sandals in Brown, Refresh PALLOMA women's Low Ankle Boots in Grey, Yurban AERTUNIS women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Black,Earth Spirit Womens Brown Leather Block Heel Boot,Bonanza (Global) Painted Vans, Kingdom Hearts, key, kingdom hearts shoes, Handpainted shoes,New Balance M997DSAI - BeigeDickies Workwear Canton Boot Black / 9, MySuelly ISOLO women's Mid Boots in Brown, Romika ROMILASTIC 128 women's Slippers in Black, Mam'Zelle DORISA women's Mid Boots in Black,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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