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. Petite Mendigote RENETTE women's Sandals in Beige,Meindl Journey Lady Mid Gtx - UK 7.5Maison Margiela Metallic Fabric Ankle Boots,R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Boots, Dark Tan Regular G Fit, UK8Altberg Boots AltBerg P1 Peacekeeper Original Black - please select,Albano Court - Women Albano Courts online on United Kingdom - TUK MONDO LO men's Casual Shoes in Reebok Classic VENTILATOR women's Shoes (Trainers) in Purple,New Balance Adult Furon 3.0 Pro FG,Marion - 3.4cm Heel - Black - UK 8.5,Amblers Banbury Mens Casual BootCONVERSE CT FUR LINED HI,Seboy's Boots - Women Seboy's Boots online on United Kingdom - 11494599HN, Puma SUEDE CLASSIC women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Paloma Barcelò HPZL SLBL women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in Blue, Supra SKYTOP II women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in BlackSophia 2.5 Heel - Tan - UK 4,Dubarry Navigator Deck Shoes, Whiskey, UK7,Nike Juvenate Lib QS - Wit,Michael Dass Boots - Women Michael Dass Boots online on United Kingdom - 11483699RE, Converse CHUCK TAYLOR ALL STAR OX women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in White, Les Tropéziennes par M Belarbi GINKGO women's Sandals in Pastelle ANGEL women's Mid Boots in Black,Superga 2790 LINEA UP DOWN 5 (EU 38) White,Alexander Wang Montana Embellished Fringed Textured-leather Ankle Boots,Jordan Air 7 Retro - Zwart,J|D Julie Dee Boots - Women J|D Julie Dee Boots online on United Kingdom - 11482720HA, Carlington DAINO men's Casual Shoes in Brown, Fericelli GUENU women's High Boots in Brown, Montesinos little lounge party shoes women's Court Shoes 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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