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. CallagHan SPRINGER men's Shoes (Trainers) in White,Office Angeles Chelsea Boots BLACK LEATHER SILVER STUDS,Skechers Lite Womens Grey Slip On Casual Shoe,R.M. Williams Gardener Boots, Brown Regular G Fit, UK11.5,Altberg Boots AltBerg Base Boot, Ankle Height, MOD Brown - 09.5 medium,Alejandro Ingelmo Court - Women Alejandro Ingelmo Courts online on United Kingdom - 11472337HI, Espace LEON women's Court Shoes in Brown, Hummel SLIMMER STADIL HIGH women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Blue,Womens *Head Over Heels by Dune Black 'Everley' Trainers- Black, Black,Rita - 5.5cm Heel - Nappa Black - UK 6,Rockport Bennet lane Cape Noble Venetian,Ladies Duchess Sheepskin Slippers Grey Embossed Leopard UK Size 7/8,Santoni Boots - Women Santoni Boots online on United Kingdom - 11477821WR, Rockport TOUGH BUCKS PT OX 2 men's Casual Shoes in Black, Veja HOLIDAY LT women's Shoes (Trainers) in Red, Magrit Rosy Knot women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in SilverBatzShop Batz FC10 - beige - EU 38 - UK 5,Paraboot Michael Marche Lis Nuit Shoe 715610,Altberg Fremington Lite Lady - Wide - UK 6.5,Metisse Boots - Women Metisse Boots online on United Kingdom - Clarks HAMBLE OAK women's Smart / Formal Shoes in Black, CallagHan EXTRA COMFORT women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in Black, New Balance U410 men's Shoes (Trainers) in Beige,Bonanza (Global) PB162 elegant wedge booties w heels inside, size 5-8.5, black,Steve Madden Update Snake-print Laminated Leather SandalsAdidas Wmns ZX 500 OG - Grijs,Hunter Boots - Women Hunter Boots online on United Kingdom - 11246558QJ, Geox U BOX men's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Black, Esprit AELY SANDAL women's Sandals in Brown, Moschino Cheap CHIC BUCKLE 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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