Letters to the Editor | Sept. 1, 2021

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Throw the bums out

The editorial reviewing the horrific situation in Afghanistan (“The ignominy of Afghanistan,” Aug. 26) lacked balance because it failed to attribute blame to members of the current U.S. administration who created the fiasco of the withdrawal.

The administration has yet to be candid with the American people. Either Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken failed to advise President Biden of the possible outcome of a rapid withdrawal, or he disregarded their advice and went ahead. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, could also be culpable in this coverup.


If the president’s senior advisers did not foresee the possible outcomes, they should have resigned their positions without delay. On the other hand, if the president overruled their clear advice, and ordered the withdrawal, he should be impeached and removed from office.

Few will dissent from the long-overdue need to bring our troops home, but the manner of withdrawal should have been paramount. Once a decision was made to leave, it was essential to plan ahead for the evacuation of American citizens, Afghan citizens who had worked to support our troops and the return or destruction of the weapons we had taken there. Once this had been accomplished, American troops could return with the knowledge of a job well done.

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It is the manner of our withdrawal that has resulted in the well-deserved phrase “Ignominy of Afghanistan,” and those responsible should all be swept out of office.

The president saying he is responsible is meaningless, unless he is prepared to remove those who failed so miserably to give him sound advice, or to admit he really misjudged the situation and leave office. Departures are long overdue.
STANLEY ORMAN
Rockville


Look before you leap

There are a few problems with “Five fascinating facts about the Jewish leap year” (Aug. 26), an otherwise enlightening article about the Jewish calendar:

References to “the great sage Hillel” would have been better stated as “the great sage Hillel II.” As written, the article may leave the impression that the sage whose house contended with the House of Shammai three centuries before was the sage who reformed the Jewish calendar.

Also, “in the far distant past,” relying on nature to know when a leap year was needed would not have guaranteed that the month of Adar I “was added to the third, sixth, eighth, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years” of a 19-year cycle. That only came to pass after the calendric reforms of Hillel II in the year 359 CE.

The article was accurate in describing the length of a Jewish leap year as “anywhere from 383 to 385 days.” For clarity, it could have mentioned that non-leap years range between 353 and 355 days; the addition of the 30-day month of Adar I results in the number given in the article for the length of a leap year.

Although the extra month was the focus of the article, it’s worth noting that the day added to Cheshvan or removed from Kislev is the closest analogue in the Jewish calendar to Feb. 29 in the Gregorian calendar. Kislev is shortened to prevent Yom Kippur and Hoshanah Rabbah from falling on awkward days of the week; Cheshvan is lengthened to keep the Jewish calendar on track with the moon. About 45 percent of Jewish years add a day to Cheshvan; about 25 percent of Jewish years remove a day from Kislev. That leaves about 30 percent of years that do neither.
BERT B. KATZ
Wheaton

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