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. Bourne SANDY women's Low Ankle Boots in Black,D.a.t.e. Newman Camo Army Rubber Covered Leather Sneaker,Shoes For Crews (Europe) Falcon II (White) - 4Dubarry Roscommon Boots, Walnut, UK 8 (EU42),Altberg Boots AltBerg Jungle Micro MOD Brown - 07.5 medium,Alberto Guardiani Court - Women Alberto Guardiani Courts online on United Kingdom - 11488573XP, Tosca Blu CLEO women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Hummel VICTORY men's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,ECCO 221003 221003-50148 UKIUK/SLATE Size: 35, Colour: SLATENike Wmns Air Footscape Woven - Wit,Dr Keller Touch & Close Sandal EW Fit,TED BAKER HANN WING CAP DERBY,Som-Mits Boots - Women Som-Mits Boots online on United Kingdom - 11553018UW, Geox PIUMA BALLERINA PATENT women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Black, Gola HARRIER women's Shoes (Trainers) in Brown, Geox D GRIN A women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in BlackNueva Epoca - Cecila - UK 7.5,Leisure Lakes Bikes Five Ten Freerider MTB Shoes Teal/GrenadineMavic Crossride Elite Ladies MTB Shoes 2016,Norma J.Baker Boots - Women Norma J.Baker Boots online on United Kingdom - 11447603EF, Rieker Drayton Button Trim Mary Jane Shoes women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in White, Mimmu WINNIE women's High Boots in Black, Bunker LUCY women's Sandals in Brown,Bonanza (Global) Handmade Men White Single Monk Shoes Leather, Dress Formal Tuxedo Business Shoe,Charles Tyrwhitt Black Made In England Derby Toe Cap Shoes Size 8 R by Charles Tyrwhitt,KingSale Air Max Lunar 1 - Rood,L'amour Boots - Women L'amour Boots online on United Kingdom - 11298312OH, Kat Maconie ELSA women's High Boots in Black, Hispanitas HV75352 women's Clogs (Shoes) in Silver, Supra HAMMER RUN women's Shoes (Trainers) in RedThe 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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