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. Geox U JAYLON men's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,Peter Kaiser MARABELLA PETER KAISER LADIES LONG BOOT Size: 3.5Bonanza (Global) ps379 sweet fancy leather strappy ankle sandals, extra size, US Size 3-10, white,Dubarry Cork Boots, Mahogany, UK 7 (EU41)Altberg Boots AltBerg P1 Peacekeeper Original Black - 04 mediumAlexachung Court - Women Alexachung Courts online on United Kingdom - 11482526EV, Meline MONTONE women's Mid Boots in Betty London ISAQUE women's Low Ankle Boots in Brown,Blowfish Jumper Shr Boot WHISKY DRAPPED569 - 60 Suede Black 6cm heel - Suede Black - UK 8Skechers Agility - Victory Won,Scarpa Men's Bora GORE-TEX Shoe - Blue, BlueSergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - Rockport TOUGH BUCKS PT OX 2 men's Casual Shoes in Black, Sebastian TREDACCIAIO women's Court Shoes in Vans ISO 3 MTE women's Shoes (Trainers) in Grey,Lindy Hopper Strap - Black/White - UK 5 - 39,Clarks Originals Suede Wallabee Natural Black,Hanwag Alta Bunion GTX - Select,Mi/Mai Boots - Women Mi/Mai Boots online on United Kingdom - 11505990GT, EMU HEIGHTON women's High Boots in Beige, Pajar ICELAND women's Snow boots in Brown, Pastelle ANGEL women's Mid Boots in Black,Tamaris Womens Low Heel Ankle Boot in Black,Laurence Dacade Nelen Buckled Leather Sandals,Nike Skate Boarding Stefan Janoski Max - Rood,Islo Isabella Lorusso Boots - Women Islo Isabella Lorusso Boots online on United Kingdom - 11303314UU, Geox SNAKE A women's Shoes (Trainers) in Purple, Sebastian S5202 women's Sandals in Black, Nike AIR HUARACHE RUN SE W women's Shoes (Trainers) in BlackThe 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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