Putting our militias in their proper context

The AP has an interesting on-site story about the Bolivarian militias’ boot camp.

The group’s increasing (and increasingly unjustified) anti-Americanism struck me as misplaced. But mostly, I was struck by what is now a pattern: every single story about the militias from the inside leaves the impression that this is a passionate, yet shamelessly amateur group of people.

The money quote:

"Osmaira Pacheco, the housewife that shot the machine gun, excitedly said that it was a "wonderful" experience shooting at a straw man dressed in military grab. A little more seriously, she added that she didn’t like the idea of killing anyone, be they American or from any other country, and that "she would never want there to be confrontations between Venezuelans." "

I think having armed civilians passionate about Hugo Chávez is not something to sneeze at. But until we are proven the contrary, let’s not make them what they are not.

These folks are not like Iran’s Basij nor like the Revolutionary Guard. They are not like Lybia’s Revolutionary Guards, and they are not Saddam’s Republican Guard

Those groups are/were elite, highly-trained, professional units. These folks barely reach that. They are armed, true, but it strikes me that Lina Ron’s militias are more fearless, therefore more fearsome.

These folks are what they are: middle-aged, out-of-shape housewives and unemployed men with little training, but who are passionate about defending Chávez.

They are not training to defend Venezuela from a foreign invasion. They are pawns, part of a message the government is sending to Venezuela’s formal Armed Forces: don’t mess with me, or who knows what may happen.