The panic from the ongoing and worldwide Depression in the 1930s had empowered extremist movements the world over. Like-minded, violent dictators of otherwise quite different Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan and Communist Soviet Union all wanted to attack their neighbors.
Yet World War II could have been prevented had Western Europe united to deter Germany. Instead, France, Britain and the smaller European democracies appeased Hitler.
The United States turned isolationist. The Soviet Union collaborated with the Third Reich. And Italy and Japan eventually joined it.
The 1930s saw rampant anti-Semitism. Jews were blamed in fascist countries for the economic downturn. They were scapegoated in democracies for stirring up the fascists. The only safe havens for Jews from Europe were Jewish-settled Palestine and the United States.
Does all this sound depressingly familiar?
The aftershocks of the global financial meltdown of 2008 still paralyze the European Union while prompting all sorts of popular extremist movements and opportunistic terrorists.
After the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, America has turned inward. The Depression and the lingering unhappiness over World War I did the same to Americans in the 1930s.
Premodern monsters are on the move. The Islamic State is carving up Syria and Iraq to fashion a fascist caliphate.
Vladimir Putin gobbles up his neighbors in Ossetia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine, in crude imitation of the way Germany once swallowed Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland.