August 19, 2017: Two new articles are in our 'Current News" section; "If Abe Lincoln Were Alive He'd Defend Robert E. Lee," reflects on the Charlotteville uproar over a Confederate statue. See our contrarian viewpoint on this. The second article, with new information, is "Russiagate: A New Watergate?" published by the BESA Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, Israel. We explore in particular, the adverse effects of Watergate on foreign policy, particularly in relation to South Vietnam and Israel.
With the current conflict in the U.S. over the removal of Confederate statues, readers might be interested in the fact that Estonia, a NATO country, has had a major riots in the past over the issue of whether or not to remove certain statues and monuments. The struggle arises from the fact that during WWII some Estonians fought with the Germans against the Russians, hoping for liberation. Thus, though Estonia is a Democratic country, some of these soldiers still revere and honor memorials to German generals. Meanwhile, Estonia has a large Russian minority jealously guarding its own memorials. Estonian writer Igor Rosenfeld's long essay on Nazi episodes in Estonia is not to be missed for those researching the psychology of memorials. Click on "Baltics &Estonia" and Igor's "Special Report" will appear.
August 12, 2017: Our long paper, "Russia's Strategic Advantage in the Baltics: A Challenge to NATO?" was published by the journal of the International Geostrategic Maritime Observatory in Paris. The paper explores three scenarios by military experts of a Russian invasion of the Baltics. Also examined are Putin's motivations, past history, geopolitical changes in the region and more. The Abstract is in our "Baltics" section with details on how to obtain the journal.
Unafraid, Bi-partisan, Uphold U.S. and Freedom
In 1990, General Bill Odom, a leading Russian expert, explained at the George Kennan Institute, that although “President Reagan's strategy ... did not enjoy popularity among many Sovietologists, there were notable exceptions, such as Richard Pipes, Zbigniew Brzezinski,Thomas Hammond, and Jiri Valenta… Yet the [positive] results of the Reagan approach have been precisely the opposite of what the majority of Sovietologists expected.”
This is the principle website of the fourth Russologist, and "notable exception" mentioned by Odom -- Dr Jiri Valenta. The President of this Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism, Jiri is an internationally known and independent expert on Russia and Eastern Europe, who, for many years has written in tandem with his wife and partner, Leni Friedman Valenta. In the past he has served as a consultant to the administrations of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush ‘41, and Vaclav Havel, president of the post-revolutionary government of Czech Republic (now Czechia). In 1984 he became a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and in 1985 he was named by the Washingtonian Magazine as one of the ten most consulted Sovietologists outside of Washington. The Russians recognized Jiri's contributions while inviting him and former Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze to debate in an official booklet sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mission: Leni and Jiri's mission with their institute is to advise U.S, policy-makers, analysts, scholars and the public on threats to our national security while proposing ideas for conflict resolution. Hence they also subscribe to the view that foreign policy begins at home in our much conflicted and divided country. They were among the few serious American analysts supporting Donald Trump for president, since publishing their "Open Letter to Donald Trump" on July 4, 2015. However, their support was not unconditional. They were very critical of Trump when he attacked Senator John McCain. Two of their blogs related to the 2016 elections were published in The National Interest, "Why Trump was Right about Bush's 9/11 Record" and "Who is Mike Morell?"
Principles. “Unafraid, Bi-partisan, Uphold U.S. and Freedom” is the motto of this institute. Recognizing that foreign policy also begins at home, its principles concern themselves with internal as well as outside threats to the homeland and America's vital national interests. Yet they do not identify with either of our two main political parties. Rather they support or critique members of either as they see fit, attributing to neither party an inherent hold on virtue
With a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins, SAIS (1976). and an Ing. (graduate degree) from the Prague School of Economics (1968), Jiri is the recipient of several distinguished fellowships; Brookings, Council on Foreign Relations, Rockefeller, Wilson Center, National Endowment for the Humanities, Peace Foundation and others. While at Brookings, Jiri worked as a research associate of Dr. Josef Korbel on the latter's two books at the Library of Congress, 1973-74. Korbel, the father of Madeleine Albright, became his mentor.
In 2005, Jiri received the silver, Jan Masaryk medal, awarded to him by the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs for "his contribution in preserving and promoting relations between the Czech Republic and the United States of America." Korbel was adviser to Jan Masaryck, assassinated by the Communist secret police in 1948.
Since 2005, Jiri has served as President of this small, private think tank, The Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism, with his partner and wife, Leni Friedman Valenta. The principals of the institute, founded with the help of the late family patriarch, Herbert Friedman, include Daniel Homick, also a historian and a man with international business experience. The co-writer as well as the principle editor of the articles in this website, and its CEO, is Leni. Built under Leni’s leadership, this site contains the articles and documents of the Valentas and occasional guest writers, dealing with post-communist conflicts and terrorism and U.S. national security.
A graduate cum laude of Brandeis University, Leni holds an MFA in play writing from the Yale School of Drama, where she graduated with honors. The winner of a New Jersey award as the author of The Fortress, a play about Benedict Arnold, she also wrote a biography of Clara Barton, an unsung heroine of the Civil War, under her prior married name, Hamilton. Her play, Piece of Mind, was performed at the Riverwest Theater in New York and earned a rave review from the Bergen Record. Two one-acts, The Changing Stream, ran for years with Hospital Audiences of New York. A former political activist for the Democratic Party, Leni served in the past as Municipal chair of Westwood, New Jersey, she is a past winner of the Hannah G. Soloman Award from the National Council of Jewish women for her work as a community organizer for family planning issues.
A student of the American Revolution and Civil War, Leni has also, in the past, been a political activist and writer for the Democratic Party. As the former aide and press secretary for a state senator, she served in the past as Municipal Chair of Westwood, New Jersey and county committee woman.
Leni's research on the American Revolution and Civil War has furnished a comparative perspective for her's and Jiri's major work-in-progress, a two-part study, America and Russia's Democratic Revolution. Mostly completed, it is the product of on site research and interviews of key players, including Alexander Yakovlev, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin in Russia, and former leaders from the former non-Russian republics of the Baltics and Caucasus. While working on it, the Valentas engaged in productive dialogue, with Harvard historian Richard Pipes, author of Alexander Yakovlev, the Man Whose Ideas Delivered Russia From Communism. The Valentas' related essay, "How Would Yakovlev Advise Putin Today on Ukraine and ISIS," was published in the Aspen Review.
While building their institute, Jiri, with Leni's help, has built on his experience of founding a studies program and two other institutes. An American scholar of Czech origin, he taught for a decade as professor at the Department of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Postgraduate Naval School (PG School), Monterey, and served as Coordinator of its Soviet and East European Studies program. Josef Korbel's powerful recommendation helped him win a national competiton for the post. He also supervised more than a dozen Masters theses of students of three armed services, some later assigned as military attaches, others as intelligence officers. Nine theses were published by the PG School, one by Major Arthur D. Nicholson Jr., shot to death by a Soviet guard in East Germany. To the Washington Post, Nicholson was "one of the Army's best and brightest of Russian specialists who had made daring missions behind the Iron Curtain to gather intelligence on the Red Army. "
While teaching at the PG School (1976-85) Jiri also served with Richard Pipes and Nathan Sharansky as a member of the The Union of Councils for Soviet Jews and lobbied with members of Congress on Jewish emigration from Russia and Eastern Europe. He also co-edited a volum, Eurocommunism Between East and West. published by the Indiana University Press. In 1981-82, as a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Fellow he was asked to organize a CFR group on the Crisis in Poland, presided over by Lt. General (USAF) Brent Scowcroft. The group included Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Pipes, Madeleine Albright and others. At that time Jiri wrote two articles on the Polish crisis for Survival, London, and dozens of op-eds for the Baltimore Sun about Soviet hybrid interventions in Poland. On a copy of the groups framed photo, Zbig wrote, "To Jiri with admiration for his work."
In 1984, Jiri co-edited Soviet Decision-making for National Security with William Potter. For years the book has been used as an academic textbook at military schools in the USA, Israel and by NATO allies. Two chapters written by JIri were also translated into Chinese and published by the Chinese People's Army as a separate book, Military Decision-Making of the Soviet Union.
In 1983, Jiri was invited to lecture at several research institutions of the People's Republic of China. The same year, Henry Kissinger asked Jiri to serve as one of the key presenters and original drafters of a section of his Bi-partisan Commission on Central America. Together with Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Howard Wiarda, and Jiri's late wife, Latin American expert Virginia Valenta, he wrote, The Communist Challenge in the Caribbean and Central America, published by the American Enterprise Institute.
Dr. Valenta has been deeply involved in lecturing and writing about U.S. national security. Besides issues like the U.S. military interventions in Grenada and the proxy wars in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Angola, Namibia and Cambodia ,he has been asked to serve on U.S. Government-sponsored studies dealing with strategic surprise and deception operations. On these subjects he has written for the journal, Survival, published by the Institute of Strategic Studies in London, but also books sponsored by both the U.S. and Canadian governments. Consult the definitive study called "Deception Operations" edited by professors David Charters and Maurice Tugwell The study was conducted by the Mackenzie Institute for the Studies of Terrorism at the University of New Brunswick, Canada.
Recommended for a position as a full professor of Political Science both by Brzezinski and Kissinger, Jiri also founded the Institute of Soviet and East European Studies [ISEES] at the University of Miami. His institute organized several international conferences dealing with conflict and resolution involving Cuba, Vietnam, Afghanistan and America. One of the most important was with the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, in 1986. The resulting book, Conflict in Nicaragua, featured the first dialogue between representatives of the Sandinistas and Contra leaders, while proposing a peaceful resolution.
A second international conference on Russia, Cuba and America in Angola and Namibia, featured dialogue between the most prominent Russian Africanist, Professor Apollon Davidson and a UNITA representative in America. Davidson was the first Soviet public lecturer to Miami ever. Having conducted research among guerillas at the Thai-Cambodian borders and on the Pakistani-Afghan borders, Jiri organized a third international conference with the University of Singapore. It led to a book edited with Professor Frank Cibulka, then of Singapore University, Gorbachev's New Thinking and Third World Conflicts. Jiri also found funding for these conferences from the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the Peace Institute, USIA, and the Singapore Research Institute.
The most significant international conferences of ISEES, however, materialized as what became known as the "Moscow- Miami" and "Prague- Miami Dialogues," 1988-1992. They featured Boris Yeltsin, new Czech Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, key U.S. and Russian legislators, and advisers, scholars, editors and opinion-makers on behalf of both Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev. A resulting publication was a conference report in Russian and English written by Jiri with Andrey Kortunov, then a department head of Russia's Institute of the USA and Canada. Kortunov also taught a seminar with Jiri at ISEES prior to the conference.
With the help of the Cuban American National Foundation, and the Jewish community, the institute published information about the real state of Cuban-Russian relations in prominent Russian and Czech newspapers and journals. This opened the eyes of the Russia public to the enormous cost of Kremlin subsidies to Fidel Castro's regime, and his rejection of glasnost.
After Dienstbier's visit to ISEES in October in 1990, Jiri was asked by the late Czech Foreign Minister Dienstbier to become either the Czech ambassador to the U.N. or to direct a think tank, the Institute of International relations (IIR he chose the latter. While firing secret police agents in the institute, he obtained grants from the Konrad Adenauer and PEW Foundations, the latter jointly with Daniel Pipes' Foreign Policy Institute in Philadelphia. Under his aegis, the institute produced two important publications, Mame narodni zajmy [Do We Have National Interests?] and Czech National Interests [Ceske narodni zajmy]. The Institute also organized the Sanford Ziff Freedom Flight of Soviet Jews, pioneering a route from Moscow through Prague to Tel Aviv. However , when he proposed closing the PLO Embassy in Prague in the Czech daily, Respect, and invited Daniel Pipes to lecture at his institute, The Society of Czechoslovak Friends of Palestine wrote a booklet attacking him. A month thereafter, a new Foreign Minister dismissed him. Belatedly (2005) Jiri received the Jan Masaryck medal for his outstanding work.
Post-Communism: The Valentas provide their own and occasionally other's research and analysis of two clusters of critical issues facing America. The first cluster: Conflicts and problems of former and present communist countries, including North Korea, with its erratic and unpredictable leader; Cuba, and most of all Russia, whose military interventions in Georgia and Ukraine pose a threat to world order.
The Valentas' analysis is often predictive and pioneering and they have frequently proven right when others were wrong. After his student research trip to Russia in May-June, 1968, Valenta warned leading Czech journalists, among them Jiri Dienstbier, a Soviet invasion was possible. No one believed him. In 1989, when America was in the grip of "Gorby-mania," Jiri, in "Yeltsin's Soviet Vision," the Miami Herald, foresaw that the "emergence of the Yeltsin-led movement and its survival ...suggest there might be systemic change without violent upheaval." After Yeltsin's three-day visit to ISEES in Miami, and Jiri's private dinner with him in Moscow, October 1989, Argumenty i fakty, published a long interview with Jiri (July, 1990), where he suggested that Yeltsin was the future leader of Russia.
In 2009, with Leni and Jiri having visited the South Ossetian and Abkhazian-Georgian borders and the Crimea, they predicted Russia's possible invasion of the Crimea. As they warned in the Tbilisi Messenger on September 21, 2009, "The frictions between Ukrainians and Russians also bring into sharp focus the conflict brewing in the Crimea ...The new, expanded Russian law justifies future military interventions..." Why the new law? The Russians are supposed to give up their Black Sea naval base to the Ukrainians when their lease runs out in 2017. But based on the new law and deja vu, its not hard to predict what Russian intentions are." Students and faculty at Taras Shevchenko University in Kyiv a few weels later, were very skeptical when we discussed discussed a possible invasion of the Crimea.
It happened in 2014! Several hours before Putin's "little green men" invaded the Crimea, the Valentas warned Ukraine expert Professor Alexander Motyl, and Fox journalist James Rosen, that an invasion was imminent.
As a senior adviser to the Dutch government, Lillian Widdershoven, wrote of Jiri, he is blessed with an extraordinary foresight on future developments... He (with Leni) was among the first to suggest arming Ukraine!" (Kyiv Post, April 21, 2014). Besides defensive weapons, the Valentas also proposed heavy energy sanctions, long before President Obama applied them. In 2015 the Valentas recommended deployments of small NATO troops in the Baltics and greater civil rights for their Russian minorities as is happening now.
Islamic Terrorism: The second cluster of issues studied by this institute deals with terrorism, an area Jiri has pursued since his first study with Norman Podhoretz and William Maynes in 1986: Terrorism – Reagan's response, a working Paper of ISEES. Terrorism includes the communist variety (North Korea), as well as the growing, double headed Hydra of radical Islamic fascism, and its challenges to America. The first “head” is the Shiite one, represented by the Islamic Republic of Iran and her allies in the Middle East, but also their agents in Central and Latin America. The second is Sunni-based terrorism -- ISIS, al Qaeda and their affiliates in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Nigeria, and Kenya. Recruits of both branches are metastasizing to Europe and other Muslim countries and bringing jihad even to the American homeland. Here, one of the Valentas' main focuses is possible a U.S.-Russo limited partnership (The National Interest) in the war against international Islamic terrorism, as we did in Afghanistan in 2001-2002.
In their essays and blogs the Valentas were among the first, serious American analysts supporting Donald Trump for president, since publishing their Open Letter to Donald Trump on July 4, 2015. However, their support was not unconditional and they were very critical of Trump when he criticized John McCain. Two of their blogs were published in The National Interest, "Why Trump was Right about Bush's 9/11 Record" and "Who is Mike Morell?"
In the last three years The Valentas have been regular bloggers on both the Member only Wall of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, the Russian International Affairs Council, Moscow (RIAC), the principle think tank of the Russian Foreign Ministry and Linkedin. They have also published in the Aspen Review, a perspective for the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University in Israel, The Middle East Quarterly and the Kyiv Post. Valenta has also been interviewed by Hamid Bayati for the Tehran Times , Egypt’s Osama Kamal of Cairo 360, Andrey Kortunov of The Russian International Affairs Council, Moscow, two interviews by prominent American Ukrainian expert Alexander Motyl for The World Affairs Journal and Binyamin Rose for Mishpacha (Israel).
In the past Dr. Valenta has has also contributed to Survival (London). Washington Quarterly, New Times, (Moscow) and numerous newspapers; The New York Times, Washington Times, Baltimore Sun, Miami Herald, Forward, andJewish Times.
While engaging in unique research and interviews on-site, the Valentas have also published in local newspapers and lectured at foreign universities. Visiting Azerbaijan and Armenia, they wrote on Russia, the Caucasus and the Karabach conflict for the Armenian paper Aravot. In Georgia, Leni wrote a 2009 article for the Tbilisi Messenger condemning the Stalin Museum in Gori for its glorification of Stalin and suggesting that a huge statue of the dictator in his home town's main square be replaced with a memorial to his victims. It happened a year later, June 10, 2010! The pair also researched the first known cybernetic attack in 2008 Estonia, and examined Russian policies in neighboring Latvia and Lithuania. Conducting a few years in Costa Rica, Panama and Costa Rican-Nicaraguan borders they wrote several articles for the Tico Times (San Jose). Putin's visits to Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua demonstrate that Russia is not a regional power. Together with former Czech Ambassador to the U.S., Martin Palous, Jiri. wrote a unique, comparative essay on America and democratic movements in Ukraine and Venezuela, published by the Democracy Digest, [a publication funded by the Democratic Part an institute headed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright], and the Miami Herald.
Dr. Valenta's Publications
Jiri is the author or co-author of many books including a seminal study, Soviet Intervention in Czechoslovakia, 1968; Anatomy of a Decision, Johns Hopkins Press, 1991. The last edition has an introduction by the late Czechoslovak leader, Alexander Dubcek, who wrote "Dr. Valenta's work deserves praise .. it succeeds in reconstructing these tragic events faithfully." Foreign Affairs has described the book as, "Probaby the best-grounded study yet done on the Soviet handling of the Czechoslovak affair of 1968. Robert Legvold has called it, "a well received original study" and "a vindication of his original assessment." Russian-born, American scholar Yury Federov, a board member of the International Relations Center, referred to Valenta's "brilliant analysis" while reviewing the usefulness of Valenta's bureaucratic politics paradigm for studying Vladimir Putin's 2008 intervention in Georgia.
Jiri's publications includes books on post-communist, radical regimes of the Caribbean and Central America. Building on research conducted by Jiri and his late wife, Virginia, at the Soviet and East European Studies research and publications on Cuba and Russia in the Western hemisphere, such as Grenada and Soviet/Cuban Policy, Internal Crisis and U.S./OEC Intervention. , Co-authored with former Kennan Institute Chairman Herbert Ellison, it was highly recommended by Zbigniew Brzezinski as a "genuinely valuable, case study of proxy Soviet expansionism ... an important guide to effective U.S. response." To Henry Kissinger it was "a unique perspective on Grenada's former relationship with the former Soviet Union and its allies."
Valenta was also praised by Gaddis Smith (Foreign Affairs) for book Conflict in Nicaragua. "representative of widely divergent viewpoints than most of the current writing on Nicaragua, this collection fills a definite need. In the words of Gaddis Smith, the research is "representative of widely divergent viewpoints than most of the current writing on Nicaragua, this collection fills a definite need." We are also engaged in researching Cuba's relations with Venezuela, the deep crisis in that country, and its impact on the Caribbean and U.S. interests.
Jiri and Leni are working on four books: Vladimir Putin and Four U.S. Follies, Russia’s Democratic Revolution, Russian Interventions at Russia's Periphery and Are You Starting a Revolution Here? [Jiri’s Memoir]
The Valentas are available for consultation, TV interviews, university lecturing, public speaking and special research projects. They may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE INSTITUTE OF POST COMMUNIST STUDIES AND TERRORISM
Unafraid, Bipartisan, Uphold U.S. and Freedom