WHO WE ARE:
Leni and Dr. Jiri Valenta are pictured holding the original, not yet published Russian manuscript, of the late Alexander Yakovlev, Mikhail Gorbachev's former chief advisor. Their September 2000 interview took place at Yakovlev's office in the former building of the Central Committee on Staraya Ploshad' [Old Square], now, as the sign reads, the "Administration of the President of the Russian Federation." Familiar with Jiri's book about the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Yakovlev allowed the Valentas to study his manuscript, Omut Pamiati, Ot stolypina do putina [Maelstrom of Memory: From Stolypin to Putin], in their hotel room during two days of interviews.
7/19/2014: Our latest update analyzes Putin´s trip to Latin America, including his visit to Cuba and his unnanounced visit to Nicaragua. The U.S. ought to be taking note. There are commercial reasons -- the sale of energy -- but also geopolitical ones. Putin´s cultivation of Latin American, anti-American regimes is also linked to the Ukraine crisis. We explain how. Additionally, we compare the handling of President´s Putin and Obama with two very different border crises. Putin´s deals with the one at the borders of the Ukraine, Obama with the one at the U.S. southern borders. This column is in "Current News," "Russia" and "Nicaragua."
JVLV INSTITUTE OF POST-COMMUNIST STUDIES AND TERRORISM
This is a different website. While there are numerous research platforms dealing either with the phenomena of post-communism or terrorism, as far as we know there is not one that focuses on both of them, including their past ties, current conflicts and interactions. In its pioneering effort, the Institute of Post-Communism and Terrorism (JV & LV) seeks to fill the void, while providing a net assessment of the critical issues impinging on America's vital national security.
Our aim is to employ a historical perspective, drawing upon our extensive research and experience in analyzing the decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, revolutions in communist and post-communist countries, ongoing disputes and on site interviews with key players, past and present. Whenever relevant, we also address issues of foreign policy-making, including our failures like Benghazi-gate. By creating a database of relevant and unique material, we hope to provide academics and governments with better tools and deeper insights than might otherwise be available.
The term “post-communist” refers to the evolution of former communist regimes since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. Before that, the communist system was characterized by four tenets; a vanguard party having a monopoly on political power, other vertical structures, state planning in lieu of market forces, and an ideological alliance with other Leninist regimes in the interest of proletarian internationalism. This term is a shorthand for strategic alliance with the USSR.
In the post-Soviet era, most of the formerly communist regimes in Central Europe, the Baltics and parts of the Balkans, have morphed into democratic and market-oriented states with horizontal structures (e.g. political parties). Their once strategic alliance with Russia has been replaced with membership in NATO. A very few countries, such as North Korea, Cuba and Byelorussia, have preserved Leninist political structures. Still others can be defined as hybrids, a category which includes China and Russia.
Surely, these two Great Powers are the most important post-communist countries. While neither are democracies, they are stable countries slowly moving in the direction of reform. In Russia, the ideology of Leninism has been replaced by a return to the Orthodox, Eastern Christianity practiced under the tsars. There is now a market in lieu of a planned economy, but the strategic parameters are defined and influenced by the state.
China, maintaining formal Leninist structures, is more integrated than Russia into the global market, with its own formidable, technological innovations. Also spurred by its demographic growth and her huge investment in America's treasuries, China has become a dynamic member of the world capitalist system.
In terms of our research on post-communism, our main task is conflict avoidance and prevention in the vital interest of the U.S. Thus we look at the sources of potential disputes between Russia and some of the former Soviet non-Russian republics in the Baltics and Caucasus. Two of those in the Caucasus are still part of the Russian Federation; Chechnya and Dagestan. At the present time we are doing on-site research in Central America on Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela and their interaction with rogue states North Korea and Iran.
Our other major focus is terrorism. By this we mean violence perpetrated by rogue regimes and national or transnational organizations, for religious and/or political reasons. Ultimately, the most dangerous threat to our national security is the potential of these groups to unleash nuclear holocaust; something we must prevent at all costs. Here lies a common interest we share not only with our allies, but also Great Powers Russia and China.
Terrorist groups include, but are not limited to Hezbollah and Hamas as well as Al Qaeda and its network of affiliates. They are active in rogue states Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, South Yemen, Chechnya and others. All of these, despite NATO interventions in some cases, are facing war or civil war, instability, ethnic strife and growing terrorism.
This is a lively site and we add to it almost daily, sometimes with important news items, also by publishing debates. Politically independent and bipartisan, we strive to present different points of view despite our own opinions on various issues. We also feature a holocaust-genocide section. Having both had relatives who died in the holocaust, we seek to remind ourselves and our readers of past catastrophes and the dangers of WMD that we face daily.
The principles of this site are internationally known scholar Dr. Jiri Valenta, and his wife and partner, Leni Friedman Valenta. The author/editor of numerous books including the renowned, Soviet Intervention in Czechoslovakia, 1968, Dr. Valenta is a long standing member of America's foremost foreign policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also the recipient of the Jan Masaryk medal from Czech Republic for furthering ties between Czech Republic and the USA. The recipient of numerous distinguished fellowships and grants, he is an internationally known scholar anod educator and the author/editor of numerous books
Leni Friedman Valenta holds a three-year Masters in playwriting from the Yale School o f Drama in playwriting, has authored plays and books with historical themes, operated her own writing service for many years, and has served as an official in New Jersey Democratic party politics. She has joined Dr. Valenta in ongoing blogs with the Russian International Affairs Council and works with him on this website as well as on two major books.
Dr. Jiri Valenta dining with Boris Yeltsin, then a Soviet opposition leader, at his Moscow apartment, October 1989. Yeltsin prepares to toast "to a clean and sober life," the motto of his political enemies who briefly introduced a disastrous Russian Prohibition. Valenta amused Yeltsin by quoting the old adage, "Prohibition is like communism. It's a good idea but it cannot work."
Building of the JVLV Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism
In general, this institute is a logical continuation of the work and products of a former organization, the Institute of Soviet and East European Studies (ISEES), which Dr. Valenta founded and supervised at the University of Miami from 1986-91. ISEES, which sponsored dialogues and debates in addition to producing monographs and occasional papers, was abolished after the 1991 defeat of the putchists in Moscow, and with Dr. Valenta's transfer to a senior position in the Czech government as Director of the Institute of International Relations in Prague.
Leni Valenta shakes hands with Gorbachev during a break at the inaugural meeting of his Association of the USA and Russia, Moscow, September 2000.
This site is dedicated to our late patriarch, Herbert Friedman, the beloved father of Leni Friedman Valenta and father-in-law of Jiri. A believer in international peace, he gave us the resources to conduct our work according to our own free will and conscience. In his honor we have reproduced a large paitning that Leni did of him shortly after his death in 2004 at the age of almost 101.