Before Democrats escalate the above question into a partisan issue, they had better search their collective historical memory. For it was a right-wing Republican battle cry -- "Who lost China?" -- that gave rise to McCarthyism 40 years ago. And it was the charge that Washington utterly misjudged North Korea's designs South Korea that left the Truman administration open to GOP attack even when that ugly war was going on.
Now we are hearing Democratic legislators assail "the apologist crowd" in Jim Baker's State Department for miscalculating Saddam Hussein's intentions toward Kuwait. Sound familiar? During and after the Korean War, Republicans accused Secretary of State Dean Acheson of giving the Korean Communists a "green light" to attack by describing a U.S. "defensive perimeter" that did not include South Korea. Such charges grew out of earlier McCarthyite assertions that the State Department was riddled with Communists, some of whom were eager to cede China to Communist "agrarian reformers."
There were indeed officials in the Marshall-Acheson State Department who calculated U.S. interests would be better served -- as Richard Nixon discovered more than two decades later -- by seeking an accommodation with the Mao regime. And there were any number of high-rankers in the Truman administration and in the military (Douglas MacArthur included) who failed to anticipate the North Korean attack on South Korea.