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. Millet BOUTHAN GTX men's Walking Boots in Brown,Rieker CAVALERY RIEKER MENS SLIP ON SHOES Size: 42, Colour: BLACK,Saucony Jazz Original Vintage - Roze,R.M. Williams Gardener Boots, Black Regular G Fit, UK9,Altberg Boots AltBerg Lady Sneeker Elite Black - 05.5 mediumAlberto Venturini Court - Women Alberto Venturini Courts online on United Kingdom - 11480202LL, Regard RUNAZO women's Sandals in Silver, Janet Janet PEONIA PLISA women's Sandals in Red,Nike Air Max 90 Premium - Groen,Medway Shoes - Black - Standard Fit - 10,Hi-Tec Dri-Tec G300 Golf Shoe,ORIGINAL PENGUIN CASUAL DECK SHOE,Stella Luna Boots - Women Stella Luna Boots online on United Kingdom - 11542713PD, Petite Mendigote PRAGUE women's Casual Shoes in Perlato TAPILE women's Mid Boots in Un Matin d'Ete INOLA women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Silver,Ruth - 5cm Heel - Nappa Black - UK 4Saucony Shadow 5000 LT - Oranje,BatzShop Batz FC10 - blue - EU 37 - UK 4,Norma J.Baker Boots - Women Norma J.Baker Boots online on United Kingdom - 11516223BS, Swedish hasbeens OPERA BOOTIE women's Low Boots in Blue, Pikolinos JEREZ women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in White, Replay CHATE women's Sandals in Black,Belle Boots - Jet Black - Standard Leg - 8,Jane Norman Nude Open Back Pointy Heel With Mesh Cage,Kangaroos Rage Camouflage - BeigeLaurence Dacade Boots - Women Laurence Dacade Boots online on United Kingdom - 11214479WW, Spylovebuy Laverne women's Low Ankle Boots in Brown, Café Noir BABET women's Low Ankle Boots in Black, Geox SFINGE A women's Shoes (Trainers) in BlueThe 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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