While the economy eclipses all else as the banner topic of this election, and America looks inwardly at its growing financial pains, there are critical lessons from the past that we cannot afford to ignore. As comparisons are made between the current economy and that of the Great Depression, one should take note of what occured as a result of the government policy of the time to focus internally while ignoring international security issues.
During the Depression of the 1930's, America was not at war. While FDR worked to address the economic mess left by the Hoover administration, America's financial crisis spread outwards to Western Europe, resulting in a similar inward looking focus in those countries. This left the previously weak military powers of Japan and Germany to blossom and grow unchecked, which ultimately resulted in Hitler's rise and the the first invasion of US soil in 130 years by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.
In today's era of easy international travel, combined with the advent of biological and chemical weapons, dirty nuclear bombs, assymetrical warfare fought by Islamic terrorists, and the unstable and emerging nuclear powers of Pakistan and Iran, an inward focus would prove to be even more devastating than in the past. No longer is America as geographically protected as in the 1930's, when the vast expanses of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans served as a natural defense barrier. We cannot afford protectionist policies, and a decreased military presence. Despite our current economic pain, we cannot afford to focus inwardly, while allowing rogue nations to build their power unchecked. When Hitler invaded Western Europe and pushed the Brits back to England, America was there to bail them out and defeat the Nazi's, and subsequently end the war with the defeat of Japan. If such a global conflict were to arise today, and we needed someone to watch our back, who would be there to save us? That's correct. Nobody.