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. Sixth June SEED ESSENTIAL men's Shoes (Trainers) in Pink,Pria Double Buckle Ankle BootNicholas Kirkwood Leda Wedge Espadrilles,Le Chameau Ceres Jersey Gusset Boot, Vert Chameau, EU41 (UK 7),Altberg Boots AltBerg P1 Peacekeeper Original Black - please select,Alberto Fermani Court - Women Alberto Fermani Courts online on United Kingdom - Ippon Vintage TOKYO CULT women's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue, Coolway TAHALIFIT women's Shoes (Trainers) in BlueBonanza (Global) White Canvas Shoes Anime Pokemon Squirtle Design Men Women Converse All StarNueva Epoca - Paulina - Black/Red - UK 4,Dr Keller Touch&Close Shoes EUW FitVans Authentic Leather BLACK MONOSebastian Boots - Women Sebastian Boots online on United Kingdom - Rockport TOUGH BUCKS PT OX 2 men's Casual Shoes in Black, Casual Attitude RIVIGH men's Mid Boots in Brown, Clarks EDWARD STYLE men's Casual Shoes in Blue,Swivel - Black - UK 7 - 42Nike Air Max 1 Ultra 2.0 Flyknit - Blauw,Altberg Fremington Lite Lady - Medium - UK 5,Maria Cristina Boots - Women Maria Cristina Boots online on United Kingdom - 11513185EO, Sweet Lemon PACITI women's Casual Shoes in Silver, adidas LOS ANGELES W women's Shoes (Trainers) in Red, Converse CHUCK TAYLOR AS CORE women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in White,Bonanza (Global) Anime Naruto Shippuuden Sasuke Design Black Converse All Star Hand Painted Shoes,Oboz Bridger Mid GTX - Level 3,Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Moire - Wit,J|D Julie Dee Boots - Women J|D Julie Dee Boots online on United Kingdom - 11547490KE, Ted Baker SYBELL women's Low Ankle Boots in Black, Airstep / A.S.98 CORCHO women's Sandals in Black, Wonders BELTRAO 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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