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. Koah LARISSA women's Low Boots in Brown,Pria Double Buckle Ankle BootPuma Suede Classic - Beige,Ariat Ambleside H2O Boots, Flaxen, UK 6 Full Calf,Altberg Boots AltBerg P1 Peacekeeper Original Black - 07 mediumAlberto Moretti Court - Women Alberto Moretti Courts online on United Kingdom - Alpe 3360 11 women's High Boots in Marc by Marc Jacobs BUCKLE BOOT ANKLE BOOT HEEL women's Low Ankle Boots in Grey,Miu Miu Boots Shoes Women Miu Miu,Nadja - 5cm Heel - Black Patent - UK 6,Rockport Classic Flash One Eye Tie,Pantone Milan Sneaker PIRATE BLACK SUEDE,Sartore Boots - Women Sartore Boots online on United Kingdom - 11523535PK, Hush puppies LORWEN women's Mid Boots in Castaner FABIANNE women's Low Ankle Boots in Black, Les Tropéziennes par M Belarbi GAYA women's Sandals in Brown,Nike Air Max 1 Premium - ZwartAigle Benyl M Vario Boot, Bronze, EU41,Puma R698 Stuck Up X Alife - Zwart,Maria Cristina Boots - Women Maria Cristina Boots online on United Kingdom - 11530521MR, Lotus OCTAVIA women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in Blue, Mjus CHANTAL women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Papucei RAISA women's Low Ankle Boots in Black,Superga 2750 WAXCOTS 3 (EU 35.5) Brown Amarante,Rockport Seven To 7 Ally Point Pump,Nike Air Berwuda - Rood,Icône Boots - Women Icône Boots online on United Kingdom - 11550444BB, Tamaris ALVINI women's Mid Boots in Blue, Gabor SASSY women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Beige, Refresh FANI women's Low Ankle Boots 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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