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. Ash BEEBOP women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in BlackConverse Chuck Taylor All Star Leather High - White Monochrome Size: 1Jimmy Choo Flat Booties Shoes Women Jimmy Choo,Dubarry Kerry Boots, Black, UK 9 (EU43),Altberg Boots AltBerg Warrior Microlite MkII, MOD Brown - 13 medium,Vivien Lee Boots - Women Vivien Lee Boots online on United Kingdom - 11491459SJ, Element PRESTON men's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Brown, Minnetonka MOROCCO women's Sandals in Beige,Barbour Footwear Monty Brown Shoes MFO0217BR51,581-35 Nappa Black 3.5cm Heel - Black - UK 7,BatzShop Batz IRENE - black - EU 36 / UK 3.5,Office Modernist Ghillie Block Heel Sandal SILVER MIRROR,Santoni Boots - Women Santoni Boots online on United Kingdom - 11003512BW, Diadora N9000 NYLON II women's Shoes (Trainers) in Kroc patent leather shoe women's Court Shoes in Red, Casual Attitude HARCHE women's Court Shoes in BlackBonanza (Global) 30 (9, Ivory) Ivory Wedding Boots,Red Wing Shoes Oxford - Copper,Nike Lunarepic Flyknit LB - GrijsManufacture D'essai Boots - Women Manufacture D'essai Boots online on United Kingdom - 11446287KB, Betty London IDRISS women's Low Ankle Boots in Camper PEU SENDA women's Mid Boots in Grey, Pitillos DRESTA women's Sandals in GoldSuperga 2950 COTU 11 (EU 46) Grey Sage,Bonanza (Global) Painted converse sneakers, Pokemon, Pikachu, Handpainted shoes,Diadora N9000 Made in Italy - Blauw,Visco Memory Overlays Super King (1830mm x 2000mm), Teva SANBORN UNIVERSAL men's Sandals in Black, Tosca Blu CITRINO women's Shoes (Trainers) in Pink, Hackett HALKIN FOX FLANNEL men's Shoes (Trainers) in GreyThe 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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