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. Mimmu PARMA women's Low Ankle Boots in Black,Högl Hogl WESTMINSTER HOGL LADIES FASHION SHOE Size: 6, Colour: NAVY,Mist Gtx® Shoes - Loden Green - Standard Fit - 8R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Boots, Chestnut Regular G Fit, UK7.5,Altberg Boots AltBerg Sneeker MkII MOD Brown - 09 mediumAlexander Wang Court - Women Alexander Wang Courts online on United Kingdom - 11440343WK, Dream in Green QUIZILO women's Low Ankle Boots in Black, Casual Attitude MOOKO women's Mid Boots in Black,Nike Air Force 1 Hi SF - ZwartIlona - 5cm Heel - Suede Black - UK 9Rockport Bennet lane Cape Noble Venetian,TED BAKER GLD CNTRST HEEL ANKL BOOT,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - 11526153CS, Art MELBOURNE men's Shoes (Trainers) in Brown, Un Matin d'Ete RIVA women's Low Ankle Boots in Brown, New Balance MRT580 men's Shoes (Trainers) in Beige,Bona 2.2 Heel - Black - UK 4,Miss L Fire Charlie Size: EU 37, Colour: BlueRugby Factory Shop Canterbury Stampede Club Moulded Boots Black/True Red 2015,Moon Boot W.E. Monaco Wp - Boots - Women Moon Boot Boots online on United Kingdom - 11371283VW, Fericelli JULIA women's Court Shoes in Brown, Panama Jack PANAMA women's Mid Boots in Beige, Dr Martens Pascal Cherry Red nappa leather ankle boot women's Mid Boots in RedBonanza (Global) PP439 Romantic pointy heels w great bowtie, patent leather,US Size 4-8.5, green,Hi Tec Men's Pathfinder I Walking Boot - Mid Grey, Mid GreyVans OTW Collection Bedford - BlauwKarl Lagerfeld Boots - Women Karl Lagerfeld Boots online on United Kingdom - 11540541LA, Molly Bracken GARDOU women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Vans ERA women's Shoes (Trainers) in Multicolour, Betty London HYBO women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) 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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