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. Bullboxer FOULEDE women's Court Shoes in Black,Gabor ARYA GABOR LADIES SHOES Size: 7, Colour: BLACK SUED,Shake Shoes - Dark Tan - Standard Fit - 3.5,R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Boots, Dark Tan Wide H Fit, UK8,Altberg Boots AltBerg Jungle Micro MOD Brown - 06.5 medium,18 Kt Court - Women 18 Kt Courts online on United Kingdom - Angel Alarcon bridal shoes women's Court Shoes in White, Supra SCISSOR women's Shoes (Trainers) in White,Van Dal Hart Court Shoes Wide EE Fit581-35 Nappa Black 3.5cm Heel - Black - UK 6.5Hi-Tec Ottawa II WP Mens BootCONVERSE CT OIL SLICK HI,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - Spiral PAULA women's Sandals in Grey, Casual Attitude CAILLE women's Sandals in Brown, Xti - women's Sandals in Pink,28010 - Black - UK 12.5,Miss L Fire Charisse Size: EU 37, Colour: Silver,Northwave Sonic 2 SRS Road Cycling Shoes 2016,N.D.C. Made By Hand Boots - Women N.D.C. Made By Hand Boots online on United Kingdom - 11515876DT, Martinelli MEN WEDDING M men's Casual Shoes in Black, Skechers Equalizer Double-Play men's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Skechers GO WALK 4 women's Slip-ons (Shoes) in Grey,Bonanza (Global) Handmade Men Two Tone Formal Button Shoes, Men Black And Blue Formal Shoes,BONTRAGER SOLSTICE ROAD WSD SHOE,Reebok Instapump Fury Road - Zwart,Khrio' Boots - Women Khrio' Boots online on United Kingdom - 11475240WR, Dorking BABOR women's Sandals in Grey, Betty London FIANI women's Mid Boots in Black, FitFlop SUPERMOD LEATHER ANKLE BOOT II women's Mid Boots 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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