Police roughs up US diplomat, Christian Marchant in Central Vietnam

Radio Free Asia reported that Vietnamese policemen bar and rough up a U.S. embassy official as he tried to meet a dissident cleric.

The United States has lodged a “strong protest” with the Vietnamese government after policemen attacked an American diplomat while barring him from meeting with a dissident Catholic priest in central Vietnam.

Christian Marchant, a political officer with the U.S. embassy in Hanoi, was roughed up outside the home for retired priests in Hue where Nguyen Van Ly, 63, is being held under house arrest after being released from jail on medical parole last year.

“We are aware of and deeply concerned by the incident and have officially registered a strong protest with the Vietnamese government in Hanoi,” a State Department official told RFA.

You don’t hear this often, but it does happen. Active links added above. Read the whole thing here.

Just two days earlier, the  Richmond Register posted a lengthy piece on FSO, Christian Marchant. Excerpt below: 

Since he was posted as the political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, in September 2007, Christian Marchant has advocated “tirelessly” and “persuasively” on behalf of political dissidents and for property rights and freedom of religion and against torture in the Communist country with which the United States fought a nearly decade-long war.

His work has not gone unnoticed by his superiors in Washington, and in late February, the 1992 graduate of Model Laboratory School will share the Human Rights and Democracy Award the State Department presents to an embassy officer.

Marchant previously served as a political officer in the Czech Republic, China and other countries, and is reportedly heading back to DC later this year for an assignment at the EAP’s Chinese and Mongolian affairs.

Hugo Chavez Plus* has short list for next US Ambassador to Venezuela but you should see Kim Jong-il’s

In Hugo Chavez’s short list, in no particular order —

  • Bill Clinton
  • Noam Chomsky
  • Sean Penn
  • Oliver Stone

Anyone on that list would be just perfect for that chief of mission job in Caracas, thank you very much!

Really, and the next thing you know, that guy with a funny hair giving the Korean Peninsula a tummy ache is going to have his short list, too. We imagine that Kim Jong-il’s list would be much more interesting than Hugo’s based on his Hollywood favorites. In no particular order, of course:

  • Jason Voorhees
  • John Rambo aka:Sylvester Stallone
  • Godzilla
  • Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor
  • James Bond, the current version aka: Daniel Craig

And who would Mahmoud of Ahmadinejad have for Tehran? Bob the Builder? What do you eat in Pyongyang if you’re a radioactive dinosaur, anyway? 

Perhaps concerned on how Chavez’s “picks” might create a precedent (just imagine searching for an American Godzilla to be chief of mission in Pyongyang?), the State Department’s PJ Crowley answered a definite “no” when asked if the US “would you seriously entertain any of those suggestions?”

QUESTION: No? Okay. So who are —

MR. CROWLEY: Well, put it this way. We appreciate President Chavez’s suggestions, but the fact is we are not looking for another candidate to be the U.S. Ambassador to Caracas. We’ve made clear that we felt very strongly that Larry Palmer was the appropriate candidate, fully qualified, and would have been and would be an effective interlocutor to improve relations between the United States and Venezuela. We have not changed our view, even though his nomination is technically expired. We supported him prior to the end of the last Congress and we continue to support him. And we regret very much that Venezuela has rescinded agrément, but the fact is we’re not looking for another candidate.

QUESTION: Well, that seems to go – well, I mean, it doesn’t entirely contradict, but it seems to tamp down what you had suggested the other day, which was that someone would have to be re-nominated for that post.

MR. CROWLEY: Someone would have to be re-nominated.

QUESTION: Has the decision been made to re-nominate Mr. Palmer, Ambassador Palmer, to the post?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we will – we are evaluating the implications of Venezuela’s withdrawal of agrément. We haven’t made any decisions, but we just want to be clear that we have not stepped back from our complete support for Larry Palmer.

QUESTION: So – I realize this is a White House matter, but —

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, again, that is a White House matter. What – all I’m saying is that we are – there have been suggestions, particularly suggestions by President Chavez himself, that we are looking for another candidate, and the answer is that we’re not looking for another candidate.

QUESTION: Okay, so you’re happy then – or maybe not happy, but you’re ready to leave it – leave the situation as it is, without having ambassadors in either country?

MR. CROWLEY: We’re prepared to stay where we are for an indefinite period.
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, there – but there – I’m not saying – I don’t know. I’ll take the question as to whether we have meetings coming up with individuals from Venezuela. Obviously, we have not shied away from offering our view and our concerns about what is happening in Venezuela. We believe that an ambassador on the ground in Caracas would both have the ability to engage the Government of Venezuela but also make clear in our interaction with Venezuelan civil society that we support freedom of the press, we support private enterprise, we decry the increasingly autocratic trends in Venezuela.

If we have an ambassador at post, that’s not a concession to another country. It is someone there serving our interests and protecting our values. That’s why we are prepared to have an ambassador in Caracas. We believe that Larry Palmer can be an effective ambassador. We wish that Venezuela would accept him as our nominee. We regret that Venezuela has rescinded its agrément, and – but we haven’t stepped back from our support for Mr. Palmer.

*That “plus” is there for the 18 months where the President of Venezuela will govern his country by decrees.

Um wait — just this past Monday, AP also reported that the US is considering seeking a new envoy to Venezuela and also quoted PJ Crowley.  This is so confusing. Not a good way to start a new year.