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The Real Opportunity Behind the Media Spectacle

By Michael Kimmage

About the Author: Asics GEL STORMER 2 GS C811N 9019 women's Running Trainers in Peter Blade Low Boots Black Leather CHELSY men's Mid Boots in BlackArc-teryx Bora 2 Mid Hiking,Giuseppe Zanotti Boots - Women Giuseppe Zanotti Boots online on United Kingdom - Vulladi SERRAJE MON women's Shoes (Pumps / Ballerinas) in Grey,Rubber Soul Ankle Boot - Women Rubber Soul Ankle Boots online on United Kingdom - 11552958KHHaglöfs Roc Lite M (497620.3JR),Salomon XA Pro 3D (400745),Red Wing Shoes Mens Oro-iginal Work Chukka Boots,Nike Sfb 6 inch Nsw BLACK MUSHROOM GUM,Black, Reebok Sport BS5496 men's Shoes (Trainers) in Clarks TEADALE women's Casual Shoes in Lacoste Ampthill High Leather Trainers in Black 731SPM0098 02H men's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in Black,Dkny Tyra Over The Knee Boot - Boots - Women Dkny Boots online on United Kingdom - 11368833DJ, Napapijri Rabina women's Shoes (Trainers) in White39464 Barbour Footwear Monty Brown Shoes MFO0217BR51,Adidas originals Oyster Handball Top Mara D Sneakers ANNE White Woman Spring/Summer Collection women's Shoes (High-top Trainers) in WhiteSemilla Ballet Flats - Women Semilla Ballet Flats online on United Kingdom - 11046644SU,Scotts of Stow Flexx Fantastic Peep-Toe Tom Tailor REVIANA women's Mid Boots in Grey, adidas Courtvantage women's Shoes (Trainers) in GoldHunter Women's Original Tall Wellies - Navy - UK 5 - Navy,Red Wing Men's Red Wing Boots - Red Wing 6 Inch Classic Moc Toe Boots - Copper, Papucei DESIRE women's Mules / Casual Shoes in Green, Reebok Sport Astroride Future men's Shoes (Trainers) in Black,Dibrera By Paolo Zanoli Boots - Women Dibrera By Paolo Zanoli Boots online on United Kingdom - Perlato QECOQE women's Court Shoes in BlueCasadei Boots - Women Casadei Boots online on United Kingdom - 11528944PA,Superga 2750 COTU CLASSIC 2.5 (EU 35) Ivory,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.

Historic U.S.-Russian meetings tend to occur outside of Washington and Moscow. Franklin Delano Roosevelt first encountered Joseph Stalin in Tehran. At the end of World War II, they met again at Yalta, a name that would thereafter signify Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Harry Truman’s one and only meeting with Stalin was in Potsdam, a suburb of Berlin. John F. Kennedy had a shaky meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in Geneva, while Ronald Reagan had a memorable collision with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik.

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.

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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