With the assistance of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Jiri’s dissertation was published as Soviet Intervention in Czechoslovakia, 1968: Anatomy of a Decision, by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 1979. It has been hailed as a seminal study in Soviet decision-making. Two decades later, after the revolutionary changes in Russia and Czechoslovakia, it was translated and published in both these countries, with a new forward by former Checkoslovak leader-turned speaker of his country’s Federal Assembly, Alexander Dubcek, pictured here with Jiri.
Visiting the beaches of Normandy in 2007, Jiri prays in the cemetery with the many who died in WWII that he, born a month after Liberation to a Jewish woman, might survive.
HOLOCAUST AND ANTI-NAZI RESISTANCE
Jiri was born on April 9, 1945 in the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, a state created by its occupiers, the Nazis. The Illegitimate son of a Czech resistance fighter and a Jewish woman, he entered the world with his mother hiding in the basement of her future Christian in-laws.
Unsurprisingly, since his youth in Prague, 1959-68, he has cherished two fallen heroes of the anti-Nazi resistance, Czech born Jan Kubis and Slovak, Josef Gabcik. Two young, British trained Czechoslovak paratroopers-turned assassins, they chuted into Bohemia to assassinate the originator of the Holocaust and protector of occupied Bohemia/Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich. As a teenager taking a tram each day on his way to and from his School of Nuclear Techniques, Jiri twice daily passed the Church of San Cyril and San Methodius and became fascinated with the crypt where the brave paratroopers fought and committed suicide rather than be captured.
Jiri was conceived shortly after Operation Overlord, i.e. the Liberation of Europe, launched on June 6, 1944 by allied forces at Normandy. Shortly thereafter the oppression of the remaining Jews and mixed race mischlinges intensified. His 16-year old uncle, Lada, was sent to a camp in October, 1944. Jiri's mother was not. Jiri thus carried within him gratitude to both the allied forces in the West and the Red Army in the East, for the destruction of the Third Reich and for saving his life. He expressed his gratitude while visiting the graves of U.S. soldiers in Normandy pictured above. However also, when he visited the graves of fallen Red Army heroes in Leningrad, 1968 and Stalingrad, 2007.
Jiri left Czechoslovakia in 1968 with memories of the battered, Prague Radio and the National Museum , where he took cover during the onslaught of Soviet tanks shelling unarmed students throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. He is still haunted by recollections of hisrecd marching with students who carried the Czechoslovak flag stained with the blood of their dead and injured comrades. Like the Nazi occupation, the Soviet one shaped the rest of Jiri's life. First Jiri went to Switzerland where he received asylum and a fellowship at the University of Berne. While in Switzerland he studied political economics, but also the Swiss armed defense neutrality with his Swiss host, Dr. Ulrich Abi, a major in the Swiss Army. The memory of Swiss determination to fight invaders influenced his writing in the following years, including the Ukraine.
Unlike Henry Kissinger who came at age 13 with his parents, Jiri came in 1971 at age 25, without parents, on a plane by himself with sixteen dollars in his pocket and an Austrian girlfriend he met on the plane. He had obtained a student visa to the University of Minnesota to study Political Economics. Fluent in four languages, Czech, Slovak, Russian and German, he spoke only a few words of English. To support himself he worked as a Fuller Brush Man, cleaned floors in Wynn Dixie, and drove a taxi while also doing statistical research for the University of Minnesota. Within only five years, however, he earned his Ph.D at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies. While at Johns Hopkins, he earned a Brookings Fellowship in a national competition and a Johns Hopkins fellowship for interviewing former Russian officials in Israel and Western Europe. Meanwhile, having published his first article in the SAIS Review in the spring of 1973 about the U.S. Soviet 1972 summit, he was approached by Professor Josef Korbel, father of future Secretary of state Madeleine Albright, for a job as Korbel's research assistant on a book about Czechoslovakia and the Czech Legion. Korbel became his first mentor.
Thereafter, Jiri dedicated his life to the study of Russian interventions and neglected aspects of Russians and Cuban and other foreign interventions. His research has brought him to the Afghanistan borders, Nicaragua, Namibia, Grenada, Ukraine, Georgia and the regions of the Baltics and the Caucasus.
In the following decades, his understanding of U.S. national security has deepened in particular by teaching and conducting research at the U.S. Postgraduate Naval School, but also through his serving as a consultant to several U.S. Government agencies during the Carter Reagan and Bush '41 administrations.
The key experience became his work for Henry Kissinger, Chairman for the Bipartisan Committee on Central America in 1983. Whereas the Rand Corporation had a team of testifiers, Jiri singlehanded, drafted the sections on Russia and Central America. He worked closely here with Henry, but also Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Winston Lord and Nestor Sanchez, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defesne. Finally, he has been asked to brief numerous foreign leaders on Russian interventionism and U.S. National Security. Moreover, he has repeatedly appeared on the leading, national TV and radio programs, CBS News, ABC News and All Things Considered. In the early 1980's he was a regular guest of prominent radio broadcaster Ron Owens, KGO Radio, San Francisco.
In the mid-1980's, he was offered a senior, full professorship at the University of Miami, while being promoted to academic associate of the Department of National Security Affairs, and to associate professor. Moreover in recognition of his research, he was named a member of the governing board of the Naval Research Foundation. He has further enhanced his understanding of US. national security by testifying at hearings of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, as well as at Henry Kissinger’s 1983 U.S. Bipartisan Commission on Central America.
In1963 Jiri won entry to the select Industrial School of Nuclear Techniques (now defunct), where he did undergraduate work.
in 1968 , he received his ING degree from Prague's faculty of national economics at the Wysoka skola economika, finishing in four years instead of the usual five.
In 1971, he received a fellowship for the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (hereafter SAIS) in Washington, D.C. A year later, he also became a teaching assistant to Professor Herbert Dinerstein, and thereafter a Johns Hopkins Fellow. In 1976, he obtained his Ph.D in international relations from Johns Hopkins SAIS.
During this period Jiri considers his main mentor to have been Dr. Josef Korbel, a fellow Czech and the father of former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. Korbel hired him as a research assistant, working with him on two projects at the Library of Congress and also advising him on his dissertation.
Jiri has received numerous distinguished fellowships, including a Rockefeller Foundation and a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Fellowship at the same time. He was also the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship for teaching at the Collegio de Mexico in Mexico City, and a research fellowship at the University of Uppsala in Sweden and at the University of Kiel in what was then West Germany. Additionally, he has held a Brookings Fellowship and a Rockefeller Fellowship for Scholars in Residence at the Rockefeller Center in Belaggio. Italy. As a Fellow in Residence at the CFR, he assisted National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft in organizing a studies group on the Polish crisis. He been a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Olin Foundation and the Peace Institute, as ell as a scholar in Residence at Columbia University.
Naval Postgraduate School, 1976-85
From 1976-85, having won a national competition with the help of an outstanding recommendation from Dr. Korbel, Jiri taught Soviet and East European Studies for the Department of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. He frose from assistant professor to associate professor with tenure-turned academic associate. The program produced dozens of Masters degree graduate students, future attaches and intelligence officers for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force. Among the many students who wrote their theses under Jiri’s supervision was the late Major Arthur Nicholson, who was shot by a Soviet sentry in 1985 while on an Intelligence mission in East Germany.
Jiri also taught (1984) at the Department of Political Science of the University of California at Santa Barbara, Collegio de Mexico in Mexico City (1986) and at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Kiel, Germany (1996). Under the auspices of academic institutions,foreign governments and U.S. Information agencies, he lectured in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, most of the countries of Europe, Russia, Australia, South Africa, most of the Central American and Caribbean countries, Brazil, Japan, The People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Thailand, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.
Working Relationship with Future Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
In 1981, Jiri spent a whole day with Dr. Condoleeza Rice at her request, consulting with him about his and her work and her future career. Later, she asked him to co-author her first published research paper, written primarily by her and entitled, "The Czechoslovak Army." It was eventually published in Communist Armies and Politics, ed. by Johnathan R. Adelman, Boulder, Westview Press, 1982. Jiri also served as one of the principle readers of the manuscript for her book, The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948-1983, and she acknowledged that he "provided important information."
In Memorium: Virginia Lyda Valenta
Jiri's ex-wife, the late Virginia Lyda Valenta, was born in July 1947 and passed away in July 2016 after a long battle with cancer.
Virginia received an M.A. in Romance Languges from the University of Missouri, Columbia. She has written several articles on Soviet and Cuban policies in Latin America, and is coauthor of Soviet Strategy in the Caribbean Basin and Leninism in Grenada.
Mas Canosa, [left] also helped Jiri bring Czech Foreign Minister Dienstbier to Miami. Their tacit, Miami meeting soon spelled the end of Cuba's Czech representation in Washington. Jiri still has a copy of the document he helped to draft.
President, The Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism, 2006-Present
Jiri is presently the President of the Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism where he has been providing analysis of communist and post-communist conflicts and threats to national security by rogue states and terrorist groups since 2006 at the institute´s website, jvlv.net. His co-editor and writer is his present wife, Leni Friedman Valenta, a graduate of Brandeis and the Yale School of Drama in Play Writing. Married since July 1999, the couple has undertaken numerous research trips to many world trouble spots in Eastern Europe, Russia, the Ukraine, the Caucasus, Central America and elsewhere. Besides publishing joint articles, they have consulted, lectured and conducted seminars and research in many post-communist countries, have lecture in foreign universities and are currently working on several books, including a comprehensive study of the fall of the former Soviet Union, a study of Russian interventions and Jiri´s memoir. They are regular bloggers on the Council on Foreign Relations Member Wall and for the Russian International Affairs Council (Moscow), the think tank of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Leading newspapers and popular journals to which Jiri has contributed include The New York Times, The Washington Times, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, The Miami Herald, Forward, Midstream, The Jewish Journal, The Financial Post (Toronto), El Pais (Madrid), Moskovskoe Novosti [Moscow News] and Novoe vremia [New Times] (Moscow), Respekt,Mezinarodni politika and Lidove noviny (Prague).
In 1990, Jiri helped to organize a mini-summit in Miami, at the same time Gorbachev was meeting with President Bush at the White House. A member of the delegation was the prominent critic of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Chechen-born General Kim Tsagalov, (left whose protests against the Soviet war in Afghanistan had made headlines. Other members included the editor-in-chief of Argumenty y fakty [Arguments and Facts], Vladimir Starkov, a staunch supporter of Yeltsin whom Gorbachev had tried unsuccessfully to fire in 1989. Gorbachev was hotly contesting Yeltsin's challenge at that time as Jiri found out while visiting Yeltsin at his home a week after Yeltsin was thrown by the KGB into a canal.
In this photo Jiri shows Chechen General Kim Tsagalov the Mujahadeen hat that he received from the leader of a
DISTINGUISHED GRANTS AND AWARDS
A former Fellow of the Brookings institution, Jiri has also been honored as a Trustee of the Arthur Spitzer Institute of the Heritage Foundation, and has contributed to both the New York Times and Washington Times. His essays have appeared at both the American Enterprise Institute's Center for Strategic Studies and the Democratic Party Institute. LENI LOOK UP. Since 1984, he has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. He has also been the recipient of several distinguished fellowships and grants at home and abroad; besides Brookings, the Rockefeller Foundation, Council on Foreign Relations, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, National Endowment for the Humanities, The Peace Institute, The Pew Foundation, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Minnesota.
Abroad: The Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Goethe Institute, University of Berne, Switzerland, Kiel University, Germany, Royal Institute of International Affairs, Britain, Uppsala University, Sweden, Center for Soviet and Slavic Studies, Japan, Institute of the United States and Canada, Russia, the Chinese Academy of Science, China, and Institute of African Studies, South Africa..
Jiri is also the recipient of the Jan Masaryk Medal of the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, October 26, 2005, "For his contribution in preserving and promoting relations between the Czech Republic and the United States of America." The honor was bestowed upon Jiri for directing the post-revolutionary think tank, The Institute of International Relations for the late President Vaclav Havel and Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, 1991-1993.
JIRI'S RESEARCH FIELDS
Jiri has focused on four main fields of research in his work:
1. The Theory and Practice of Soviet Decision-Making for National Security - Military Interventions:
Jiri dedicated two decades of his life (1970’s and ’80’s) to this area, including research in Israel, Europe, China, Cuba and the Americas. Together with William Potter of UCLA's Center for International and Strategic Affairs, he organized a national conference at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Their resulting book, Soviet Decision-Making for National Security, published in London by George Allen & Unwin in 1984, became a text book at many universities and military schools in America and abroad. It even found its way to China, where portions of it primarily written by Jiri, were published by their Defense Ministry Press in 1985 as Military Decision-making of the Soviet Union.
2. Comparative Communism and Post-Communism:
In the same period, a second focus of Jiri’s studies was devoted to European communism and its challenge to the Soviet model.is seminal article, “Eurocommunism and Eastern Europe,” was published in Problems of Communism, in 1978. Thereafter, together with Vernon V. Aspaturian and David P. Burke, he organized another national conference, and co-edited a resulting book, Eurocommunism Between East and West, published by the Indiana University Press in 1980. The book resonated in Jiri’s receiving dozens of invitations by U.S. Embasies, Western European governments and academic institutions to lecture throughout the continent and to publish in two leading British scholarly journals.
3. Superpowers' Conflicts and Resolutions
Jiri’s third scholarly endeavor concerned research and writing on the Cold War, superpowers' conflicts and their resolutions in Afghanistan, Poland, Nicaragua and Grenada; even Vietnam and Cambodia. He also studied the Soviet-Cuban alliance in Angola, Ethiopia, Namibia, and South Africa. Conducting on site research in almost all of these conflicted countries, his focus included the use of force, strategic surprise and deception, Moreover, he briefed and continuously consulted senior officials of the U.S. Government on all these countries. Additionally, he briefed officials at the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NATO headquarters in Mons, Belgium on the Polish crisis , also writing essays for scholarly journals and newspapers.
Jiri (far left) in the photo also helped to prepare a meeting of the Czech government with a Cuban American National Foundation delegation together with Foreign Minister Dienstbier's press secretary, Michael Cermak. In the photo Cermakl stands behind the Foreign Minister seated at the center. The late Czech President Vaclav Havel is to Dientbier's right.
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Following a long, 1989 vodka dinner at the Yeltsin's apartment in Moscow it was clear that Yeltsin felt genuine affection towards Jiri's late wife, Virginia . As Virginia reported in "Area Woman Recalls Larger than Life Leader," Tulsa World, Oklahoma, Yeltsin asked if he could kiss Virginia, than did so before he got the answer.
The Valenta's small institute is the only one in the world, as far as we know, that deals with two key issues facing president-elect, Donald Trump; joint cooperation with Russia in the struggle against Islamic terrorism, and conflict resolution of Russo-Ukrainian relations. Finally, he has both lectured and written about international terrorism as a threat to both the United States and Russia. His interest in Islamic terrorism harks back to a seminar he organized with Norman Podhoretz in Miami, 1986.GET URL With a quarter of a century of experience as a university professor, and with decades of research, he possesses an exceptional quality; he is strictly bi-partisan. It suggested by the motto of this institute, "Unafraid, Bi-partisan, Uphold U.S. and Freedom."
In the summer of 1990, after visiting the Yeltsin family in their home several months earlier, Jiri led a delegation of Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) leaders, to Boris Yeltsin’s office in the Russian White House. Included were Feliciano Foyo, a friend of Jeb Bush, Tony Costa, Dr. Alberto Hernandez, and Domingo Moirera. With the backing of the late CANF leader, Jorge Mas Canosa [left] Jiri was able to orchestrate a briefing of Soviet society via several key players who were briefed in Moscow and/or invited to Miami, and who wrote objectively about the economic cost of the Soviet-Cuban alliance and Fidel Castro's repression of human rights in Cuba.
The late CANF leader Jorge Mas Canosa, left, discusses Cuba with the late Czech Foreign Minister, Jiri Dienstbier. .
Dr. Jiri Valenta (left) dining with Boris Yeltsin and his family, daughter Lena, grandson Borya, wife Naina, daughter Tanya (right) with Yeltsin's winking granddaughter, Moscow, October 1989.
Then came the already mentioned Grenada and Soviet-Cuban Policy, a collection of essays by prominent analysts with many captured documents from communist countries. Afterwards, his research focused on the conflict in Nicaragua. Together with Mexican scholar Esperanza Duran, he organized an international conference at the British Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. The outcome was Conflict in Nicaragua: A Multidimensional Perspective, London, Allen & Unwin, 1987. Again it included key and unknown documents such as the Sandinista's secret platform, provided by Jiri's student, former Sandinista ambassador to Equador Alvaro Taboada. A former Sandinista official and leftist, Taboada, who had come to the U.S. on a U.S. Government grant, provided Valenta with his own original copy of the FSLN program, pp. 385-386. Clearly Leninist, it had been kept secret, while the Sandinistas presented themselves as social democrats. Strangely, as Jiri learned, from then CIA Director Bill Casey, the U.S. did not have a copy despite all the money invested in the Contra project. Jiri also contributed to Challenges in the Caribbean, with Jean Kirkpatrick et al, published under the sponsorship of the American Enterprise Institute.
4. Revolutionary Change Under Soviet Leaders Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin:
As a fourth research effort in the late 1980's and 90's, Jiri teamed with Professor Frank Cibulka of Singapore University in researching and organizing a 1988 international conference on the the resolution of Third World conflicts under Gorbachev. This time his research brought him even to the Cambodian-Thai borders and the Philippines. Here he set up the foundations for designing, organizing and conducting with Cibulka, the international conference that crystalized into Gorbachev and New Thinking, Transaction Publishers, 1990.
Similarly, he launched a project focusing on the changes of Soviet foreign policies in Latin America that jelled into the essay, "New Thinking and Soviet Policy in Latin America," Washington Quarterly, 1990.
Having written extensively in the early 1980’s about the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Jiri spent 1988 writing about the Soviet withdrawal and its domestic and foreign echoes. He was also the only American scholar invited by then Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze to contribute with him an essay to a Soviet monograph, Afghanistan: Five Years After. Jiri's contribution to the volume was, “No More Afghanistans." The book was published in New Delhi, by Allied Publishers, 1990
In all these projects, Jiri was a key figure in conceptualizing and devising the project, as well as contributing at least two chapters. He also tried to accomplish three objectives: To involve leading analysts, both American and foreign (if possible) with different perspectives, to publish unknown documents for analysts and the scholarly community, and to come up with useful recommendations for conflict resolution in a consensual and bipartisan fashion.
More recently, in the first decade of the new century, Jiri and his wife, Leni, have been working continuously on researching our new book on the revolutionary changes in Russibeginning with Gorbachev and Yeltsin and extending to the commencement of the Putin era. Travels have included extensive research not only in Moscow, Stavropol and Sverdlovsk, but also in most of the non-Russian, post-Soviet Republics and post-communist countries.
Meanwhile, pictured with Jiri left, his Soviet counterpart, Andrey Kortunov, helped to secure financial support from his institute and from Genrich Borovik's Peace Institute for the travel of the Soviet delegation.
A senior researcher at Georgy Arbatov's Institute of the USA and Canada, Andrey stayed to teach a course with Jiri's institute. Today he is the Director General of the prestigious Russian International Affairs Council, the think tank of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Jiri and Leni are regular bloggers for its online journal reaching thousands of people.
Aiding the Trial of the USSR's Communist Party
Jiri also helped to host and find some financial support for a Czechoslovak committee seeking to analyze the 1968 Prague Spring and Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, The project went forward under the patronage of President Havel and Speaker of the Federal Assembly Alexander Dubcek. One of the senior officials of Jiri's institute, Dr. Vaclav Kural, supervised the effort to assemble documents demonstrating the Soviet perfidy during the 1968 invasion.
Both Kural, a former advisor to Dubcek, and Jiri, were also in charge of the documents to be presented as evidence for the Trial of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) organized by Boris Yeltsin's administration in 1992. Dubcek was asked to serve as one of the key witnesses at the trial. Kural and Valenta were supposed to accompany him with the documents to Moscow. However, Alexander Dubcek did not appear as he was killed in a still not fully explained car accident at the outskirts of Prague. Kural and Valenta delivered the documents to Yeltsin's senior aide, Gennady Burbulis, and attended the session of the trial. Quiet a deja vu for Jiri.
Director, Czech Institute of International Relations, 1990-92
In 1990-92, Jiri, on loan from America every weekend, went to Czech Republic to work as an adviser to Czech Foreign Minister Dienstbier and to direct the principle foreign policy Czech think tank, the Institute of International Relations. Observing first hand how Dienstbier brought a small band of dissidents to the foreign policy helm, Jiri participated in what he greatly enjoyed, their struggle, with the Kafka-esque Foreign Affairs Ministry, replete with communist regime soldiers, secret police and a few professional anti-Semites. There he also learned first hand that the playwright-jailed-dissident-turned president, Vaclav Havel, was not only an implacable foe of anti-Semitism, but a vigorous supporter of human rights. Upholding the only Mideast democracy, he traveled to Israel to restore the traditional ties of the two countries.
Inspired by Havel, the ministry and the press also engaged in debate about disengaging themselves from terrorist regimes and groups. Dienstbier tolerated Jiri's infusion into the national debate on the Czech Republic's need to do away with the influential PLO embassy, and approved his firing of a virulent anti-Semite. Valenta has been conducting research and publishing on terrorism since Ronald Reagan’s attack on Libya in 1986. Although a Russologist, he has had practical experience dealing with the PLO while serving in post-revolutionary Prague. Suffice to say, his proposal to close the PLO Embassy in Prague, then run by an ambassador with terrorist connections, created national and international discussion and led to an anti-Valenta campaign both in Miami and Prague. So did the first flight of Soviet Jews emigrating to Israel through Prague in 1991, organized by Valenta’s earlier institute and supported by Presidents Vaclav Havel and Boris Yeltsin.
His deputy, Martin Palous, presided over the 1991 Ministry's critical debate over the delivery of hundreds of Czech tanks to Syria. Because of his academic credentials, Jiri obtained institutional grants for the Institute from the Konrad Adenauer foundation and the Pew Foundation.
With the aide of Palous, he and his collaborators crafted and oversaw the writing of a guide for the restructuring of the former Soviet ally ’into an independent, democratic country. Palous and Valenta also undertook an unofficial mission to open a ping pong diplomacy dialogue with Taiwan.
Organizing the Sanford Ziff "Freedom Flight" For Soviet Jews
Having served from 1977-87 as a national board member of the Council on Soviet Jewry, Jiri continued to be supportive of Soviet-Jewish emigration from the USSR to Israel. Thus, unsurprisingly, when the opportunity came in the spring of1991, he designed and organized what became known as the "Ziff Freedom Flight," another route of Jewish emigration from Moscow via Central Europe (this time Prague) to Israel. The flight was financed and personally aided by the CEO of Sunglasses Hut, Dr Sanford Zif and took place shortly after the unsuccessful, reactionary coup in Moscow in August 1991, at a time of great upheaval in Moscow.
Involved in the projIect were President Vaclav Havel, Foreign Minister Dienstbier, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, the Soviet ambassador to Prague and soon-to-be Minister of Foreign Affairs, Boris Pankin, Dante Fascell, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), Jorge Mas Canosa, and Elaine Bloom, Speaker pro tempore of the Florida State Assembly. Key facilitators were received by President Havel and Minister Dienstbier, who issued a declaration in support of the State of Israel. Jiri and aided in its drafting.
Something unique was happening in Miami as the late Jorge Mas Canosa, Chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) provided support for the Jewish exodus by sending the CANF president, Francisco "Pepe" Hernandez [left], with the freedom flight. This was one of the best examples of how the close cooperation of two influential, ethnic-American groups in Miami achieved a worthwhile aim.
A key participant in the Miami-Moscow Dialogues was future Russian president Boris Yeltsin, but also key supporters of both Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. Reading the Soviet press, Jiri divined that Yeltsin had a more democratic program than Gorbachev, and during Yeltsin’s whirlwind tour of the U.S., Jiri became one of only two professors in Americ. who invited Yeltsin to lecture to his students. Thanks to KGB disinformation, Yeltsin was scorned by most academia as a fool and a drunkard.
Yeltsin was neither. He completely wowed attendees at a town hall meeting. It was also during his visit that Yeltsin, was first briefed by Jiri that perestroika was not happening in Cuba.
MIAMI PRAGUE DIALOGUE
Jiri's activities and achievements are explained in the The Moscow-Miami Dialogue: The Mini Summit, published by the institute for Soviet and East European Studies at the University of Miami, Occasional Papers Series Volume III, No 4. May 26-27l, 1990.
Mikhail Cermak, the Czech correspondent of Radio Prague, was the principle, valuable counterpart in the making of a Dialogue between Miami and Prague possible. Martin Palous, the friend of leading Czech dissident and playwright Vaclav Havel-turned president of Czech Republic, joined the Dialogue in 1992 when Jiri invited him to Prague.
After the 1989 revolution, Martin Palous, who became First Deputy to the MInister of Foreign Affairs, and Valenta, Director of the Institute of Inernationak relations, thereafter succeeded in bringing the Dialogues into high gear over a long time period,. With the encouragemet of Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, whose invitation to Miami Valenta secured, the dialogues ensued with the Cuban American National Goundation [CANF] and the Jewish Community. Working jointly, Palous and Valenta were able to organize suport of the post-revolutionary government and NGO organizations in Prague for the Cuban dissidents in Miami and Cuba. Here the originatio of Valenta-Cermak contacts that began it all is interesting, Valenta met Cermak who was then working for the Czech communist government at a Havana conference in October 1988. What the fearful secret police chief of Cuba did not know was that a short exchange between both Czechs prepared the future Prague-Miami Dialogue. In August 1990, Valenta resurrected Cermak in a Czech beer hall, and with the support of Jorge Mas Canosa, organized the visit of yet another Czech visitor to Miami. By then, Cermak kept his word to Valenta and became critical of the Castro communist regime in his broadcasts to new, post-revolutionary Czech audiences. So powerful were his broadcasts that he was promptly expelled from Havana and relocated to Buenos Aires, Argentina. But having established a working relationship with Valenta, he helped to organized Minister Dienstbier's trip to Miami and meetings with the CANF.
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI, 1985-92
From 1985-92, Jiri headed the Soviet Studies program at the University of Miami, having won the position in another national competition. Within a year he founded and directed the school's Institute of Soviet and East European Studies (ISEES), A multidisciplinary program, it focused on analytical, policy-relevant studies and debates over the foreign and domestic policies of the Soviet Union and the East European nations as well as key issues of national security.
Achievements of Jiri's Institute of Soviet and East European Studie
Jiri led his students in organizing a number of daring international, public dialogues and conferences. Prior to a major project, the Miami-Moscow and Miami-Prague Dialogues discussed later, there were 1) A meeting between Afghan, anti-Soviet freedom fighters and Jewish and Cuban community leaders in Miami. 2) Dialogues with key opinion-makers like Norman Podhoretz and William Maynes on the subject of terrorism. 3) A dialogue between warring Nicaraguan leaders covering their relationship with Cuba and the USSR. 4) A conference presided over by Henry Kissinger, which for the first time in Miami's history, involved a leading Soviet official. His debating partner was a high level representative of UNITA, an anti-communist liberation front of Angola.
A research associate of ISEES, Jiri's institute, she was also co-author with Jiri of “Sandinistas in Power,” Problems of Communism, July-August 1983, vol. 34, no. 5 (September-October 1985).pp. 24-25 and contributed to "FSLN in Power" in Conflict in Nicaragua, A Multi-Dimensional Perspective, edited by Jiri Valenta and Esperanza Duran, published by Allen and Unwin, pp. 3-40,. She lectured in China at the Latin American Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peking, Peoples Republic of China, and she conducted extensive research in several Latin American nations in the Caribbean Basin. She and present wife, Leni, became friends, having much in common besides Jiri.
resistance group while doing research on the Afghan-Pakistan border in 1986. Kim, at that time stationed in Afghanistan close to the Pakistan borders, told Jiri that ifhe knew Jiri was on the other side of the border he would have tried to capture him. Then he discussed with Jiri's students and the American press how in 1987 he became the most prominent critic of the Afghan war and was forced to retire.
Jiri and the CANF delegation are greeted by President Boris Yeltsin at the Russian White House.
Dr. Jiri Valenta, presently serves as the president of the Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism, in Miami, Florida.
He is an internationally recognized expert on decision-making theory, Russian interventions in Europe and the Middle East U.S. national security, post-communism [special emphasis on the Ukraine, Baltics and Caucasus] and Islamist terrorism. By virtue of his decade-long stint in the U.S. Department of the Navy and his research on five continents supported by several distinguished fellowships, he has also excelled in studies of Russian military strategy, conflict resolution and Russia's use of surprise and deception. He has also been a consultant to the Reagan and Bush '42 administration, as well as to Czech Republic's Vaclav Havel.
BIO OF DR. JIRI VALENTA.
As shown above, Jiri presided over the first dialogue between Moscow State University professor Apollon Davidson, a consultant to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a representative of the U.S.-backed UNITA anti-communist organization in Angola, led by Jonathan Savimbe. The debate presumably the first such in history, caused a massive outpouring of anti-Soviet clamour. The UNITA representative was cheerfully applauded. To the left is former U.S. Ambassador Robert White, a prominent critic of Reagan's policies in the developing world.
The November 1988 international conference on the USSR, Cuba, South Africa and Angola organized by Jiri took place amidst hundreds of threats by hostile opponents who objected to the presence of Dr. Apollon Davidson, the first ever high-level, Soviet visitor to Miami. Professor Davidson, a consultant to the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, together with Dr. Henry Kissinger, had to enter the room through the basement for security reasons. Miami police reinforcements were on hand with dogs used to sniff out bombs. Commented Kissinger dryly, "I've never seen so many dogs at the same time."
Notably, Jiri was also the first scholar from the University of Miami invited, as the member of a U.S. delegation, to participate in a dialogue with Cuban scholars in Havana in 1988. There he cut through the cigar smoke by presenting a paper purported to address superpower foreign policy over Cuba, but which could have also been enitled, “Why Don’t You Have Glasnost Here, Comrades?
Then came Grenada and Soviet-Cuban Policy, a collection of essays by prominent analysts with many captured documents from communist countries. Afterwards, Jiri's research focused on the conflict in Nicaragua. Together with Mexican scholar Esperanza Duran, he organized an international conference at the British Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. The outcome was Conflict in Nicaragua: A Multidimensional Perspective, Allen & Unwin,1987. Again it included key and unknown documents such as the Sandinista's secret platform, provided by Jiri's student, former Sandinista ambassador to Equador Alvaro Taboada. Jiri also contributed with his former wife, Virginia, to Challenges in the Caribbean, with Jean Kirkpatrick et al, published under the sponsorship of the American Enterprise Institute.
The Miami-Moscow Dialogue
With the assistance of Rene Silva, head of a CANF office in Miami, student Charlie Safdie and other students, Jiri originated and established, the “Miami-Moscow” and “Miami-Prague Dialogues.” Financed with Jiri’s help through international grants from the Peace Foundation, the program the program was sponsored by leading members of the Cuban exile and Jewish communities.