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. Calzamedi ORTO women's Sandals in White,Peter Kaiser IVI PETER KAISER LADIES SHOES Size: 4,Bonanza (Global) Women Over Knee Boots High Heel Shoes Winter Lining Thicken Faux Boots,Dubarry Kilternan Boots, Walnut, UK 8 (EU42),Altberg Boots AltBerg Tabbing Boot MOD Brown - 13.5 medium,Alma En Pena. Court - Women Alma En Pena. Courts online on United Kingdom - Betty London NIDIA women's Mid Boots in Beige, DC Shoes STUDIO 2 LE M SHOE OXB men's Shoes (Trainers) in Red,Rockport Melora Womens Plain Pump,Medway Shoes - Black - Standard Fit - 9.5,Hi-Tec V-Lite Walk-Lite Witton WP,SERGIO ROSSI KENT BARCA MID,Stele Boots - Women Stele Boots online on United Kingdom - 11469429CW, Kawasaki STEPS HOT SHOT men's Shoes (Trainers) in Camper MYRIAM women's Low Boots in Black, Panama Jack PANAMA women's Mid Boots in Grey,Patty - 5.5cm Heel - Nappa Black - UK 7,Vans Old Skool - Blauw,Ladies Shaftsbury Sheepskin Slippers Chocolate UK Size 5/6Nr Rapisardi Boots - Women Nr Rapisardi Boots online on United Kingdom - 11530843IS, Jil Sander JS16295 women's Sandals in Pink, Sweet Lemon NODA women's Loafers / Casual Shoes in White, Supra SKYTOP CLASSIC men's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Black,Belle Boots - Dark Tan - Wide Leg - 4,Reebok Club C85 Ice Blue Shoe BD1672,Nike Lunar Internationalist - Rood,Le Silla Boots - Women Le Silla Boots online on United Kingdom - 11523609IM, Converse Chuck Taylor All Star MULTI STAR PRINT OX women's Shoes (Trainers) in White, Ash BOO women's Low Ankle Boots in Black, Maiett CHANDAIL men's Espadrilles / Casual Shoes in Blue,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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