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. Betty London ETOUNIE women's Sandals in Black,Saucony Sneaker Saucony Jazz Vintage In Black And Red Mesh Fabric,Sugar Shoes - Tan - Extra Wide Fit - 9,Ariat Braemar GTX Boots, Ebony Brown, UK 4,Charles Tyrwhitt Brown Goodyear Welted Oxford Brogue Shoe Size 7 W by Charles TyrwhittAlexander Mcqueen Court - Women Alexander Mcqueen Courts online on United Kingdom - 11463595WB, Nike AIR FORCE 1 07 LE men's Shoes (Trainers) in Via Roma 15 Burgundy Suede Ankle Boots women's Low Ankle Boots in Red,Edwardian Ellio Belgravia Slipper Roll Top Bathroom Suite,RV 805 - Wide Fit - Silver - UK 6,Rockport Essential Detail Apron Rock,CONVERSE CT PAT LEATHER HI,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - Bikkembergs SOCCER 526 men's Shoes (Trainers) in Geox D NEBULA 4 X 4 B ABX women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Red, Minnetonka ANTIGUA women's Sandals in Black,536 - 50 Suede Black 5cm Heel - Goatskin Suede - UK 5,Scout Buckle Detail Knee High Boot,Grenson Fred Leather Brogue Boot Tan,Moschino Boots - Women Moschino Boots online on United Kingdom - Eleven Paris BASTEE women's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue, Moma Stringata in pelle vacchetta testa di moro men's Casual Shoes in Brown, Betty London HILDIE women's Mid Boots in Black,Burton Mens Black Leather Brogues, Black,Office Margate Studded Strappy Block Heel NUDE LEATHER,New Balance 1500 DX - Blauw,J.W.Anderson Boots - Women J.W.Anderson Boots online on United Kingdom - Carlington GRAO men's Casual Shoes in Brown, Clarks ANDORA TRICK women's Casual Shoes in Black, Birkenstock MILANO men'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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