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. Moma ZELIANA women's Sandals in Brown,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Leather High - Black Monochrome Size: 4,Shake Shoes - Dark Tan - Extra Wide Fit - 4R.M. Williams Craftsman Boots, Dark Tan Regular G Fit, UK10.5,Altberg Boots AltBerg Base Boot, Ankle Height, MOD Brown - 12.5 medium,Alexander Mcqueen Court - Women Alexander Mcqueen Courts online on United Kingdom - Esprit GUANDA LU women's Shoes (Trainers) in Relax Slippers Grecian Mens Leather Slippers men's Slip-ons (Shoes) in BlackECCO 221003 221003-50148 UKIUK/SLATE Size: 38, Colour: SLATE,Nueva Epoca - Paulina - Black/Red - UK 7.5,Saucony Grid 8000 CL - Grijs,SOLEA - COMFORT FIT DELLA,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - 11548631HX, Betty London NORMANDIA women's High Boots in Black, S.Oliver ZINILLE women's Low Ankle Boots in Levis ALMAYER II men's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,Minerva 2.2 Heel - WIDE FIT - Black/Silver - UK 8,Ariat Windermere H2O Boots, Dark Brown, UK 7.5 Regular CalfRed Wing Heritage 6-Inch Classic Moc Toe Leather Brown,Morobē Boots - Women Morobē Boots online on United Kingdom - Romika TABEA 17 women's Slippers in Black, Merrell YARRA WTPF women's Mid Boots in Brown, Betty London HILDIE women's Mid Boots in Black,Adidas EQT Cushion ADV - Zwart,Saucony Shadow 5000 Elite - Bruin,Jordan Air 1 Retro High Nouv - Grijs,Jimmy Choo Boots - Women Jimmy Choo Boots online on United Kingdom - 11433858DE, Romika RomiRub10 women's Mid Boots in Black, TUK MONDO women's Casual Shoes in Ranikin RANKIN KID ANTICK men's Casual Shoes in Grey,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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