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. Alberto Gozzi BOTERO GADRO women's Low Ankle Boots in Brown,D.a.t.e. Newman Camo Army Rubber Covered Leather Sneaker,Mist Gtx® Shoes - Loden Green - Standard Fit - 5,Dubarry Kildare Boots, Black, UK11 (EU46),Altberg Boots AltBerg P1 Peacekeeper AQUA Black - 06.5 medium,Ancarani Court - Women Ancarani Courts online on United Kingdom - 11515814WE, Art POMPEI women's Sandals in Blue, Dr Martens Eldridch men's Low Ankle Boots in BrownHolly Stud Boots Wide Fit,Liz - 6.5cm Heel - Antik - UK 8,Lonsdale Broughton Mix Mens Trainer,CLEO B SUEDE SHAPED WEDGE,Sigerson Morrison Boots - Women Sigerson Morrison Boots online on United Kingdom - Hummel AEROCOURT HB200 men's Indoor Sports Trainers (Shoes) in Yellow, Ash BOWIE women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Leather Ox men's Shoes (Trainers) in White,598 - 60 Nappa Gold 6cm heel - Nappa Gold - UK 4.5Vans Sk8-Hi Trainers - True White UK Shoe Size: 11,Northwave Scorpius 3S MTB Shoes,Nila & Nila Boots - Women Nila & Nila Boots online on United Kingdom - 11473350QH, CallagHan very comfortable moccasin woman women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in Brown, Arcus MEMTRA women's Casual Shoes in Etnies KINGPIN men's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,Office Alicia Side Zip Boots BLACK,Nike Air Max 95 Premium - Zwart,Nike Wmns Air Max 1 - GoudKendall + Kylie Boots - Women Kendall + Kylie Boots online on United Kingdom - 11448138HI, Coolway MC-7 women's Mid Boots in Black, Hoka one one W SPEED INSTINCT women's Running Trainers in Jeffery-West CHELSEA men's Mid Boots in Brown,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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