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. Supra SKYTOP CLASSIC men's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in BlackPhilippe Model Knicks Black Leather Sneaker With ZipOffice Favour Tassel Loafer GREY SUEDEDubarry Galway ExtraFit Boots, Walnut, EU41 (UK7),Altberg Boots AltBerg Sneeker MkII Black - 11.5 medium,Alberto Venturini Court - Women Alberto Venturini Courts online on United Kingdom - Bourne RITA women's Low Boots in Camper BEETLE men's Casual Shoes in Brown,Superga 2750 Classic Leather PlimsolesAduo 1.5 Heel - Silver - UK 3,Skechers Diamond Back Tevor Mens,Riding Style Boot - Dark Brown - 3,Sebastian Boots - Women Sebastian Boots online on United Kingdom - 11445848WS, Hush puppies LORWEN women's Mid Boots in Black, Casual Attitude PALAE? women's High Boots in Grey, TBS WENDDIE women's Shoes (Trainers) in Beige,Heavenly Feet Womens Navy Knee High Boot,Ariat Windermere H2O Boots, Dark Brown, UK 7.5 Full Calf,Reebok Garbstore X Reebok Ventilator - BlauwMellow Yellow Boots - Women Mellow Yellow Boots online on United Kingdom - 11584829PX, Esprit DASHA LU women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Mikaela 17104 women's Court Shoes in Beige, Betty London DOODI women's Mid Boots in Brown,Superga 2950 COTU 7.5 (EU 41.5) Grey SageMeindl 'DURBAN GTX' Nubuck Leather - 9,Nike Wmns Air Max 1 Premium - Zwart,Wolverine 1000 Mile Addison Wingtip Tommy Hilfiger Men's Flag Trainers, White men's Shoes (Trainers) in White, TBS JAZARU women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Nordikas Norwood III Mens Leather Slippers men's Slippers 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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