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. Nike PORTMORE II ULTRALIGHT (GS) women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,FitFlop ROLA FITFLOP LADIES SANDALS Size: 4, Colour: PEWTERDazzled Strappy T Bar Court ShoeDubarry Glanmire Boots, Walnut, UK 7 (EU41),Altberg Boots AltBerg Warrior Microlite MkII, MOD Brown - 04 medium,Andrea Morando Court - Women Andrea Morando Courts online on United Kingdom - 11525273BE, Geox D BLENDA A women's Casual Shoes in Black, Barbour BELSAY men's Mid Boots in Black,Olisa Double Zip Heeled Shoe Boot,Mystery Boots - Dark Tan - Extra Wide Fit - 9Rockport Ledge Hill Plain Toe,TORY BURCH FAIRFORD 65MM PUMP,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - 11528153BI, Kangaroos K-LIGHT 8004 women's Shoes (Trainers) in Pink, Superga 2950 women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Nike AIR MAX THEA PRM women's Shoes (Trainers) in GreyMarion - 3.4cm Heel - Black - UK 7Leisure Lakes Bikes Five Ten Freerider Contact MTB Shoes Black/Red,Stylesnob - Chris Ballerina Flats - Black - Sale -60% - 39,My Grey Boots - Women My Grey Boots online on United Kingdom - 11514029MW, Art of Soule PREMIUM women's Espadrilles / Casual Shoes in Multicolour, Dune ABBIGAIL women's Court Shoes in Rochas TARTAF women's Sandals in BrownKendall + Kylie Sneakers Shoes Women Kendall + Kylie,Sol Sandals - Soft Gold - Extra Wide Fit - 8,Saucony Grid 9000 - Zwart,L' Autre Chose Boots - Women L' Autre Chose Boots online on United Kingdom - 11460294VL, Desigual SUPER HAPPY DENIM women's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue, Stonefly MACY 3 women's Low Boots in Black, Etnies FADER men's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,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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