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. Roberto Cavalli WDS212 women's Court Shoes in Black,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Oxford - Black Monochrome Size: 10 UK,Bonanza (Global) ps385 awesome pointy pump in spell color, US Size 4-8.5, black/gray,R.M. Williams Gardener Boots, Black Regular G Fit, UK9.5,Altberg Boots AltBerg Warrior Microlite MkII, Black - 13.5 medium,Alberta Ferretti Court - Women Alberta Ferretti Courts online on United Kingdom - Now ABONIMO women's Low Ankle Boots in Black, Victoria DEPORTIVO CUIR METALLISE women's Shoes (Trainers) in White,Office Friction Clean Loafer GREY SUEDEAphrodite 2.75 Heel - Black - UK 8,Gola Adona Men's Plimsoll Trainers,Redwing Work Wedge boots BROWN LEATHER,Santoni Boots - Women Santoni Boots online on United Kingdom - 11233548FE, Betty London HODA women's High Boots in Black, Marc Jacobs GINGER INTERLOCK women's Mid Boots in Black, New Balance GM500 men's Shoes (Trainers) in Red,BatzShop Batz FC10 - red - EU 39 - UK 5.5,R.M. Williams Suede Comfort Craftsman Boots, Black, UK9 G Fit,Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Breeze - Blauw,Maria Cristina Boots - Women Maria Cristina Boots online on United Kingdom - 11523560DX, Elue par nous BEDNEF women's Mid Boots in Beige, Mustang PASTRE women's Mid Boots in Grey, Dumond OTAMIO women's Court Shoes in Black,Superga 2950 COTU 7 (EU 41) Grey Sage,Bonanza (Global) Custom The Beatles Abbey Road Converse Hand Painted Shoes Men Women Sneakers,Nike Lunar Internationalist - BlauwHunter Boots - Women Hunter Boots online on United Kingdom - 11112547LI, Tiggers ROMA women's Low Ankle Boots in Angel Infantes 01075A men's Casual Shoes in Vans ERA 59 men's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue,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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