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. adidas GAZELLE W women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High - Black Monochrome Size: 5 UK,Shake Shoes - Dark Tan - Standard Fit - 4,Le Chameau Mens Vierzon Jersey Lined Wellingtons, Noir, EU43 (UK 9),Charles Tyrwhitt Brown Goodyear Welted Oxford Brogue Shoe Size 7 W by Charles Tyrwhitt,Alexander Mcqueen Court - Women Alexander Mcqueen Courts online on United Kingdom - 11528976SV, Pretty Ballerinas HONEY TANA women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Pink, EMU STINGER MINI women's Mid Boots in Beige,Converse All Star Ox 70's BLACK,Liz - 5.5cm Heel - UK 5,Saucony Grid 8000 CL - Grijs,H BY HUDSON MORAN CHELSEA BOOT,See By Chloé Boots - Women See By Chloé Boots online on United Kingdom - 11555961FB, Edith Ella - women's Low Ankle Boots in Purple, Clarks DESERT BOOT women's Mid Boots in Brown, Volcom STONE PLATEFORM women's Sandals in Brown,Balboa - Brown leather/beige canvas - UK 8.5 & UK 9 - EU 44 - US 10,Nike Air Max 90 Ultra 2.0 SE - GrijsSaucony Grid 8000 CL - Grijs,Moda Di Fausto Boots - Women Moda Di Fausto Boots online on United Kingdom - 11473364OV, D.Co Copenhagen EMILY women's Low Boots in Beige, Now PADOU women's Sandals in Black, Maria Lya Debora Womens Moccasins women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in White,Alexandre Birman 7cm Regina Boots,Muck Boot Daily Garden Shoe, Green, UK4,Jordan Spizike GS - Blauw,J|D Julie Dee Boots - Women J|D Julie Dee Boots online on United Kingdom - 11508293AQ, Casual Attitude HAPANI men's Mid Boots in Felmini VIANA women's Low Ankle Boots in Black, Barbour SETTER women's Wellington Boots in GreenThe 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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