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. SuperTrash DALLAS women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,DC Shoes DC Tonik Skate Shoes - Black/Anthracite,‎Malone Souliers‎ Montana Leather Pointed Pumps,Ariat Grasmere H2O Boots, Chocolate, UK 5.5 Full,Knott Left Side 203X40 Complete Backplate Assembly Brake Shoes -Ifor Williams,8 Court - Women 8 Courts online on United Kingdom - 11444002TQ, Dream in Green FANTIBLO women's Mid Boots in Tosca Blu EMATITE women's Shoes (Trainers) in PinkMephisto 'ELODY' Rust - 5.5Suzy Q - Brown/White - UK 6 - 40Office Fahrenheit Desert Boot CHOCOLATE SUEDE,Adidas Superstar 1 WHITE BLACK FOUNDATION,Sam Edelman Boots - Women Sam Edelman Boots online on United Kingdom - 11475831WN, Stephane Gontard CALK women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in Beige, Gaspard Yurkievich P2 VAR2 women's Low Boots in Black, Paul Joe Sister BARTOLOME women's Mid Boots in BlackBonanza (Global) NIB*Nike*Mens*Air Presto Premium *Blur *8-13*Sneaker*,Barbour Mens Readhead Boots, Dark Brown, 9,Nike Wmns Air Max 1 Ultra JCRD - Grijs,Marco Barbabella Boots - Women Marco Barbabella Boots online on United Kingdom - Vienty high wedge sandal seaside women's Espadrilles / Casual Shoes in Red, The Flexx FLEXX EMMA women's Sandals in Blue, Nike AIR FORCE 1 FLYKNIT LOW women's Shoes (Trainers) in Pink,Superga 2750 WAXCOTS 4.5 (EU 37.5) Brown Amarante,Bonanza (Global) Painted converse sneakers, Denver, Skyline, Handpainted shoesReebok Instapump Fury ASYM - BlauwDickies Rushden Trainer Grey / Mosquitos VANINA women's Low Ankle Boots in Supra VAIDER men's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Grey, Emma Go CHILTERN women's Sandals 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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