The Snake Oil of “Who Lost Iraq?”

When Communist forces took over China in 1949, a debate erupted in U.S. foreign policy circles over “Who lost China?” Amid the growing ferment of the Red Scare, blame was soon affixed to “China hands” in the State Department who, either through incompetence or (more likely, according to Red-hunters like Joe McCarthy) nefarious intent, had neglected to give the anti-Communist forces of Chiang Kai Shek the support they had required, and thus helped deliver China into the hands of America’s enemies, undermining the cause of freedom and democracy. Over the next few years, the hysteria grew to such an extent that eventually even President Dwight Eisenhower was accused by some on the extreme right of abetting the Communist conspiracy through failing to combat it as vigorously as he should have.

This article was originally published in Salon.