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. Rieker VIKY women's Mid Boots in Brown,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Leather High - Black Monochrome Size: 4,Sugar Shoes - Tan - Extra Wide Fit - 3.5,Ariat Coniston H2O Boots, Chocolate/Brown, UK 6,Altberg Boots AltBerg P1 Peacekeeper Original Black - 04 mediumAlberto Guardiani Court - Women Alberto Guardiani Courts online on United Kingdom - Betty London EMISQUE women's Low Ankle Boots in Grey, Pare Gabia NELICE women's Low Ankle Boots in BrownRieker STABLE RIEKER MENS ANKLE BOOT Size: 47, Colour: BRANDY,Minerva 2.2 Heel - WIDE FIT - Black/Silver - UK 7.5,Nike Wmns Air Max Thea Premium - Zwart,Vango Men's Nomad Leather Walking Boots - Chocolate Brown - 12 UKSergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - Petite Mendigote LONDRES women's Mid Boots in Black, Marian ODESA women's Sandals in Gold, Victoria DEPORTIVO SERRAJE women's Shoes (Trainers) in Pink,919 - 60 Satin Bronze 6cm Heel - UK 6,Brasher Women's Country Walker Boot - Brown, Brown,Hanwag Banks Lady Wide - Select,Miu Miu Boots - Women Miu Miu Boots online on United Kingdom - 11494343GO, Ash GENIAL women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Betty London GORDO women's Sandals in Brown, Ted Baker CASSIUSS men's Casual Shoes in Brown,Nike Free Run Flyknit M BLACK MONOY-3 The Atta High-top Leather And Mesh SneakersNike Wmns Air Max 1 Ultra JCRD - Blauw,Janet & Janet Boots - Women Janet & Janet Boots online on United Kingdom - 11480525MC, Nike FREE TRAINER 7 women's Trainers in Blue, Sam Edelman PETTY women's Mid Boots in Silver, Airstep / A.S.98 nova women's Mid 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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