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. Espace DORSYTIA women's Low Ankle Boots in BlackPeter Kaiser IVI PETER KAISER LADIES SHOES Size: 4, Colour: BLACK VELV,Sugar Shoes - Tan - Extra Wide Fit - 4.5,Dubarry Clare Boots, Black, UK 9 (EU43),Altberg Boots AltBerg P1 Peacekeeper AQUA Black - 06.5 mediumAncarani Court - Women Ancarani Courts online on United Kingdom - 11457495WU, Spylovebuy Kadence women's Low Ankle Boots in Red, EMU PALUMA women's Flip flops / Sandals (Shoes) in Green,Vans Authentic HF x Finisterre NAVY,Ines - 3.5cm Heel - Black - UK 8,Nike Air Max Trax Mens Trainers,CLEO B SUEDE PRINT BALLERINA,Solidea Boots - Women Solidea Boots online on United Kingdom - 11467925CO, Giana Di Firenze GIANNA DI FIRENZE BOGOTA CHAIRA women's Low Boots in Brown, Clarks DINAH SPICE women's Low Boots in Black, Gabor BALINETTE women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Grey,RV 805 - Wide Fit - Black - UK 7,Vans Old Skool Trainers - (Canvas) True White UK Shoe Size: 10,Northwave Sonic 2 Plus Road Cycling Shoes 2016,Norma J.Baker Boots - Women Norma J.Baker Boots online on United Kingdom - 11557923UP, Gabor Enfield Womens Ankle Boots women's Low Boots in Black, Montesinos little lounge party shoes women's Court Shoes in Beige, Betty London LALITANE women's Low Ankle Boots in Brown,Womens **MRL420 Trainers by New Balance - Khaki, Khaki,Stylesnob - Ally ballerina flats - Silver - Sale -50% - 36,Nike Wmns Pre Montreal Racer VNTG - Blauw,J.Wilton Boots - Women J.Wilton Boots online on United Kingdom - 44509879CV, Joya BERLIN 2 women's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue, Dtorres D'TORRES Kiew special width Diabcare women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in Black, Gia Couture La Francy black velvet sabot with floral embroidery women's Clogs (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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