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. Papillio DAYTONA women's Mules / Casual Shoes in Black,Peter Kaiser MARABELLA PETER KAISER LADIES LONG BOOT Size: 7.5,Shake Shoes - Dark Tan - Standard Fit - 5.5,Dubarry Derrymore Boot Cleaning Kit,Altberg Boots AltBerg Tabbing Boot Black - 11.5 medium,Alberto Guardiani Court - Women Alberto Guardiani Courts online on United Kingdom - 11426335QK, Dune ANI women's Court Shoes in Black, EMU STINGER MINI women's Mid Boots in BeigeIrina Boots Super Curvy E Fit,569 - 60 Suede Black 6cm heel - Suede Black - UK 6,Jacamo Chelsea Boots Standard Fit,CONVERSE CT DAINTY CHMB LW,Schutz Boots - Women Schutz Boots online on United Kingdom - 11364171BG, Bikkembergs SOCCER 526 men's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Vibram Fivefingers V-TRAIN women's Running Trainers in Black, Hispanitas APRIL women's Low Ankle Boots in Black,569 - 60 Suede Black 6cm heel - Suede Black - UK 3,Callaway Xfer Fusion Golf ShoesNike Stefan Janoski Max - Oranje,Moon Boot W.E. Monaco Low Wp - Boots - Women Moon Boot Boots online on United Kingdom - 11333274VP, Missoni TM14 women's Sandals in Black, Marc by Marc Jacobs GENA women's Sandals in Black, Bourne VERITY women's Sandals in Black,Bonanza (Global) Handmade Men Black Dress shoes, Men brogue shoes, Men formal leather shoes,Nike Wmns Air Max 90 SE - Zwart,Nike Wmns Air Max Thea Joli - Zwart,Jfk Boots - Women Jfk Boots online on United Kingdom - 11275310PO, Camper WABI men's Slippers in Blue, New Balance WX77 women's Trainers in Blue, Fericelli GORGEOUS women's Court Shoes in Pink,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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