The latest US edition of the weekly news mag takes two potshots against bikes in an article about Operation Iraqi Freedom.

What’s Newsweek got against bicycles?

Newsweek sniggers at the fact Iraqi military communications were so bad the army had to rely on ‘bicycle messengers’ and that bicycles move, on average, only 10mph.

Saddam ran his military the way Stalin ran the Red Army. Local commanders took the initiative at the risk of a firing squad. The wiser course was to wait for orders from the top. But communications were poor to nonexistent between the regime and its shattered armies in the field. The Iraqis knew enough to fear American warplanes circling overhead, high-tech vultures looking for an electronic signal. To turn on a cell phone was to invite a smart bomb on one’s head. As the bombing intensified, the Iraqis were reduced to communicating by bicycle messenger.

Franks’s ground commanders were given extraordinary latitude to make their own decisions. Invasions have historically been highly synchronized and orchestrated affairs. The fabled "left hook" in Operation Desert Storm to liberate Kuwait in 1991 was actually a ponderous advance, moving at the speed of a bicycle (less than 10mph on average). A better model for Operation Iraqi Freedom was the German blitzkrieg across northern France in 1940.

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