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. Maiett SHIPPO women's Espadrilles / Casual Shoes in White,FitFlop ROLA FITFLOP ROLA SANDALS Size: 2.5, Colour: BLACK,Lacoste Explorateur Classic - Zwart,R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Boots, Black Wide H Fit, UK9.5,Altberg Boots AltBerg Jungle Micro MOD Brown - 06.5 medium,Anaki Court - Women Anaki Courts online on United Kingdom - 11547427IH, Alpe 3297 11 women's Casual Shoes in Brown, Sweet Lemon ROWENA women's Low Ankle Boots in BlackECCO 570114 COFFEE 570114-05072 DALAS MOC COFFEE Size: 45, Colour: COF,Yasmin 2.5 Heel Clearance - Black patent Gold - UK 2,Rockport Ledge Hill Plain Toe,Mephisto 'FINA-TEX' Brown - 3.5,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - 11525887CP, Art MELBOURNE men's Shoes (Trainers) in Brown, Felmini CLASH women's Mid Boots in Blue, Ash IMPULS women's Slip-ons (Shoes) in Multicolour,Claudia - 5.5cm Heel - Suede Black - UK 5.5,Office Fox Gibson CHOCOLATE LEATHERRugby Factory Shop Gilbert Forwards Academy Rugby Boots,Millà Boots - Women Millà Boots online on United Kingdom - 11473385PF, Nike ROSHE TWO SE W women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Volcom DRAW MID men's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Grey, Remonte Dorndorf POLINE women's Shoes (Trainers) in Grey,Ecco Golf Shoes Ecco Street Retro Golf Shoes,Adidas Tubular Shadow - Beige,Adidas Clima Cool 1 - WitJuli Pascal Paris Boots - Women Juli Pascal Paris Boots online on United Kingdom - 11547987DM, Roberto Cavalli RPS659 women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Beige, Melissa SOLAR + SALINAS II women's Sandals in Nike BLAZER MID W women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in White,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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