Categorizing some issues as “foreign” and others as “domestic” bears little relationship to a world in which what happens out there affects conditions here and vice versa. This is the inescapable reality of globalization, the defining characteristic of the 21st century world.

In fact, some issues are by their very nature both foreign and domestic. Immigration is one, as is energy policy, climate change, drugs, trade and finance. They risk falling between the agendas of debates limited to dealing with matters either internal or external. Do the candidates agree we should allow for more highly educated persons to come and live in this country? What should be done to increase production of oil, decrease consumption of fossil fuels and slow climate change? What are their suggestions for reducing the demand for drugs? What would they do to expand American exports or increase foreign investment in the United States?

Most important, the list of topics made public leaves out the most serious threat facing the United States today and for the foreseeable future: the state of the United States.

This is not meant to suggest that the topics put forward do not matter. What matters more, though, is the ability of the United States to contend with them, and this depends on whether we will have the resources to prevent crises from materializing, to defend against them if they do and to recover if efforts at prevention come up short.