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. Marco Tozzi BEATA women's Mid Boots in Black,BOSS Athleisure Mens Navy Spacit Trainers Size: 8 UK,Sam Edelman Barbara Peep Toe Flats,R.M. Williams Comfort Turnout Boots, Chestnut Regular G Fit, UK11.5Altberg Boots AltBerg P1 Peacekeeper Original Black - 07 medium,Alberto Fermani Court - Women Alberto Fermani Courts online on United Kingdom - 11294756SC, Red Wing 6 IRON RANGER men's Mid Boots in Mizuno WAVE SEALTH 4 men's Indoor Sports Trainers (Shoes) in Blue,Adidas Gazelle LINEN DUST PEARL CREAM,RV 804 - Wide Fit - Black/Silver - UK 5,Hush Puppies Austin Santo SandalBaukjen Womenswear Baukjen Sol Sana Deon Mule,Roberto Del Carlo Boots - Women Roberto Del Carlo Boots online on United Kingdom - 11311992ST, Philippe Model Paris Paris bronze and gold leather sneaker men's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Black, Robert Clergerie PAULI women's Slip-ons (Shoes) in Black, Lola Cruz STUDDED women's Sandals in Beige,Peggy 6.5cm Heel - Black - UK 4,G.H. Bass & Co. Weejuns Tassle Loafers Burgundy,Altberg Fremington Lite Lady - Medium - UK 5.5,Mi/Mai Boots - Women Mi/Mai Boots online on United Kingdom - 11505986IO, Vans CLASSIC SLIP-ON men's Slip-ons (Shoes) in Red, Jonak MIRTA women's High Boots in Black, Regard ROFAP women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Silver,Superga 2754 COTU MIDTOP 4 (EU 37) NavyDr Martens Flora Chelsea Boots,Nike Air Trainer SC High QS - Blauw,Zoom Stefan Janoski Skate Shoes, Gas ROMA ETNICO women's Shoes (Trainers) in Red, Mephisto MILA GT women's Court Shoes in Black, Casual Attitude GULOIRE women's Mid 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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