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. Caprice EGUIALE women's High Boots in BrownJimmy Choo Ny Sneakers Trainer Black,Sugar Shoes - Tan - Extra Wide Fit - 5.5Ariat Conquest 8 Inch GTX Boots with Rand, Dark Brown, UK 9.5,Altberg Boots AltBerg Base Boot, Ankle Height, MOD Brown - 12.5 medium,Albano Court - Women Albano Courts online on United Kingdom - 11415204ID, New Balance U420 men's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue, Tosca Blu CLEO women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,Blowfish Korrekt Tall Boot BLACK LONESTARVoluptas 2.5 Heel - Black/Bronze - UK 6.5,Hi-Tec Eurotrek Ii Low Wp,MARC BY MARC JACOBS SLEEPING MOUSE,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - 44905663DQ, Edith Ella - women's Low Ankle Boots in Purple, Shepherd ANTON men's Slippers in Beige, The Flexx FLEXX comfortable shoe heel women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in Brown,Patty - 5.5cm Heel - Nappa Black - UK 8,Birkenstock Arizona Two Strap METALLIC COPPERAlt-Berg Altberg Tethera - Wide - UK 9.5,Mimmu Boots - Women Mimmu Boots online on United Kingdom - 11523708GP, Martinelli BARDOLINO 310 men's Sandals in Black, Felmini COIN women's Mid Boots in Brown, Geox D OMAYA women's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue,Asics Womens Gel Noosa FFCharles Tyrwhitt Black Goodyear Welted Saddle Loafer Size 6 R by Charles TyrwhittNike Air huarache Run Premium - Blauw,Isabel Marant Étoile Boots - Women Isabel Marant Étoile Boots online on United Kingdom - 11214774MH, Vans SK8-HI REISSUE women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Asics GEL-LYTE V NS men's Shoes (Trainers) in White, Reebok Classic CL LTHR women's Shoes (Trainers) 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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