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. Keyté EVORA women's Court Shoes in BlackPeter Kaiser MARABELLA PETER KAISER LADIES LONG BOOT Size: 3.5,Shake Shoes - Dark Tan - Extra Wide Fit - 9,Ariat Wexford H2O Boots, Java, UK 7.5,Altberg Boots AltBerg Base Boot, Ankle Height, MOD Brown - 12.5 mediumAlberto Venturini Court - Women Alberto Venturini Courts online on United Kingdom - 11383198IT, New Rock NORE men's Smart / Formal Shoes in Camper RIGHT NINA women's Sandals in Black,Rieker STABLE RIEKER MENS ANKLE BOOT Size: 46, Colour: BRANDY,Betty Brokat 6.5cm Heel - Brokat - UK 4Gola Comet Men's Plimsoll TrainersConverse All Star Hi WHITE MONO CANVASSergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - 11566599FM, Unisa MACA women's Sandals in Black, Strategia CLOUCLOU women's Sandals in Black, Ippon Vintage CAPTAIN FAME women's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue,Classic Saddle Shoe - Black/white - UK 11.5 - EU 48,Saucony GRID 8000 - Blauw,Meindl Antelao GTX - UK 9,Mm6 Maison Margiela Boots - Women Mm6 Maison Margiela Boots online on United Kingdom - Dream in Green KASSAB men's Mid Boots in Brown, Lola Espeleta SISLEY women's Mid Boots in Black, Maria Lya Debora Womens Moccasins women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in White,Sam Boots Super Curvy E Fit,Charles Tyrwhitt Black Goodyear Welted Saddle Loafer Size 8.5 R by Charles Tyrwhitt,Saucony Jazz O Premium - Grijs,Jerold Wilton Boots - Women Jerold Wilton Boots online on United Kingdom - 11533275HU, Tom Tailor REFULINE women's Shoes (Trainers) in Swedish hasbeens PETRA women's Low Ankle Boots in Hush puppies LEONIE women's Sandals 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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