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. Martinelli ROYALE women's Casual Shoes in Black,Peter Kaiser IVI PETER KAISER LADIES SHOES Size: 2, Colour: BLACK VELV,Shoes For Crews (Europe) Falcon II - 4Dubarry Cork Boots, Mahogany, UK 3.5 (EU36)Altberg Boots AltBerg Desert Tabbing Boot MOD Brown Suede - 11 A-Forme,Andrea Morando Court - Women Andrea Morando Courts online on United Kingdom - Kaporal ICARLY women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Brown, Ted Baker AMDON women's Low Boots in Black,CAT Footwear Deplete WP Mens Boot,Mystery Boots - Dark Tan - Extra Wide Fit - 6,Gola Comet Men's Plimsoll Trainers,TED BAKER VELVET TASSLE SLIP ON,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - 11035590GC, Geox PIUMA BALLERINA PATENT women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Black, Goliath ALLEGRO women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Black, Bunker LAST ESTHER women's Mid Boots in Black,Tara 2.5 heel - Black Satin - UK 6Leisure Lakes Bikes Giro Apeckx II HV Road Shoes Black/Bright Red,Rugby Factory Shop Gilbert Evolution V1 Rugby Boot - UK 11.5,Norma J.Baker Boots - Women Norma J.Baker Boots online on United Kingdom - 11447325TR, Ikks SANDALE TALON PONPON women's Sandals in Blue, Wonders A6201 women's Casual Shoes in Stéphane Kelian OPERA women's Sandals in multicolour,John Lobb Seaton Oxford Shoes,Charles Tyrwhitt Black Work Trainer Size 11 R by Charles TyrwhittNike Wmns Air Max 1 Print - Zwart,L'arianna Boots - Women L'arianna Boots online on United Kingdom - Nike AIR MAX 1 ULTRA MOIRE women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Polo Ralph Lauren VERNON men's Shoes (Trainers) in Green, Castaner LUJAN women's Low Ankle Boots in BlackThe 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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