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. FitFlop SUPERFLEX ANKLE BOOTS women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Black,Peter Kaiser MARABELLA PETER KAISER LADIES LONG BOOT Size: 8,Nike SB Stefan Janoski Max Skate Shoes - Binary Blue/Team Red,R.M. Williams Comfort Turnout Boots, Chestnut Regular G Fit, UK9.5Altberg Boots AltBerg Tabbing Boot Black - 11.5 medium,Alberto Venturini Court - Women Alberto Venturini Courts online on United Kingdom - 11382996LE, Ippon Vintage ANDY-K-PERFO women's Casual Shoes in White, Le Coq Sportif LCS R600 MESH women's Shoes (Trainers) in GreyTabatha Ruched Flat Knee High Boot,28010 - Black - UK 8Hi-Tec Snow Cap 200 Wp,Ladies Duchess Sheepskin Slippers Chestnut UK Size 7/8Sebastian Boots - Women Sebastian Boots online on United Kingdom - Edith Ella - women's Low Ankle Boots in Purple, Gabor OTILIA women's High Boots in Melissa LOVELY II women's Flip flops / Sandals (Shoes) in Pink,Nueva Epoca - Carla - UK 5.5,Ethletic Fairtrade Deck Shoes - Urban GreyMeindl Bernina 2 - Select,Mm6 Maison Margiela Boots - Women Mm6 Maison Margiela Boots online on United Kingdom - 11491089CT, Nike AIR MAX 90 SE W women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Love Moschino JA16219E0KJE100A women's Sandals in Irregular Choice NICK OF TIME women's Court Shoes in Black,Dune Monroe Cuff Detail Desert Boots,Geneveve Toecap Detail Slipper Cut Shoe,Nike Lunar Stefan Janoski Mid Shield - Grijs,Jil Sander Boots - Women Jil Sander Boots online on United Kingdom - 11539661EE, Converse JP SIGNATURE CVO OX men's Shoes (Trainers) in Ash RACHEL women's Mid Boots in Black, Carlington MOUNfER men's Casual Shoes 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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