America’s failure in Vietnam was partly a consequence of policy decisions—in particular allowing the enemy to maintain base areas in Laos and Cambodia (not to mention North Vietnam itself)—and South Vietnam’s ultimate flaws. But much of it stemmed from the Communists’ ability to hold the military and political initiative throughout most of the war. The strategy conducted by the North Vietnamese was arguably like no other in history: a combination of large main force units, a well-entrenched guerrilla movement with deep roots and the support of two powerful sponsors—China and the Soviet Union. All of this, combined with the ability to repeatedly attack South Vietnam with no threat of a serious retaliation, offered an unprecedented advantage.
An article on Monday about an effort by a New York hedge fund executive, William A. Ackman, to push regulators to investigate Herbalife misidentified one of the groups that wrote a letter urging an investigation. It is the National Consumers League — not the Consumer Federation (formally known as the Consumer Federation of America). The article also misstated the position at the Indago Group held by Christine Richard, who did research on Herbalife that helped inspire Mr. Ackman. She worked there, but she did not set up the company. An earlier version of this correction referred incorrectly to the Consumer Federation. It is formally — not “formerly” — known as the Consumer Federation of America.
Unfortunately that “focus on past failure” premise that drives the performance review process doesn’t stop there. Most organizations are thoroughly convinced that the best way to succeed is by obsessing on past failures. As an aside, I find this ironic at best because if anyone in the organization were to obsess, and voice their opinions, about the failings of the organization (as management does) they’d be labeled a recalcitrant, a cynic, or sarcastic, and would be quickly purged from the organization. And to add further irony, management would use the performance review process to justify eliminating that person.