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. French Connection LONNIE women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in Black,Relax Slippers Messina womens luxurious leather slippers in pewter SizPixie Boots - Rust - Extra Wide Fit - 9Dubarry Longford Boots, Walnut, EU43 (UK9)Altberg Boots AltBerg Sneeker Lady Elite Boot MOD Brown - 04.5 mediumAnaid Kupuri Court - Women Anaid Kupuri Courts online on United Kingdom - Lola Espeleta STRIKE women's Mid Boots in Black, Irregular Choice FLAMING JUNE women's Sandals in Pink,Hunter Norris Field Boot - Black Size: 4 UKRuth - 5cm Heel - Nappa Beige - UK 8.5,Joe Browns Suede Brogue Extra Wide Fit,CLEO B SUEDE SHAPED COURT,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - 11528092LM, Art MELBOURNE men's Shoes (Trainers) in Brown, Airstep / A.S.98 RAMOS women's Sandals in Brown, United nude ZINK MID women's Low Ankle Boots in Black,Sophia 2.5 Heel - Tan - UK 5.5,Superga 2754 Cotu Mid Cut Plimsolls Grey,Mens Chester Sheepskin Slippers Chestnut UK Size 9/10My Twin By Twin Set Boots - Women My Twin By Twin Set Boots online on United Kingdom - 11554917WC, Swear DAVIS 5 men's Mid Boots in FitFlop SUPERSKATE women's Slip-ons (Shoes) in Black, Pataugas WALLY-F4a women's Mid Boots in Black,Office Kitty Vintage Slouch Boots BROWN LEATHER,Hanwag Valungo Bunion - Level 2,New Balance 997 CRG - Rood,Kartell By Paula Cademartori Boots - Women Kartell By Paula Cademartori Boots online on United Kingdom - 11505116TB, Vivienne Westwood WV0001 women's Court Shoes in Black, TBS JAZARU women's Casual Shoes in Gola HARRIER men's Shoes (Trainers) in Grey,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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