Thursday, April 6th marked the hundredth anniversary of the U.S.A. entering World War One. What it actually, precisely marks the hundredth anniversary of, is Congress declaring war on Germany, April 6th 1917. Yes, that's how we used to do it: The President had to ask Congress for a declaration of war, and Congress had to vote assent. What a quaint old-fashioned way to do things! And no, it wasn't because of the sinking of the Lusitania. That had happened in May of 1915, almost two years earlier. It was a British ship, and only ten percent of those aboard were American. The sinking made for some bad feeling against Germany, but not war: Woodrow Wilson ran for election the following year on a platform of strict neutrality. It was the unrestricted German submarine warfare of early 1917 that really got America riled up. By Spring the U-boats were sinking American ships with great gusto. Then the British intercepted and published a telegram from German Secretary of State Zimmerman to his ambassador in Mexico, offering to help Mexico reconquer the American southwest. That was the last straw, and the declaration of war soon followed. World War One has pretty much vanished from the collective American imagination, overshadowed by World War Two, which was a lot bloodier, and to some degree by the Civil War of two generations earlier, which was bloodier for America than both world wars put together, in a smaller population. I was mooching around Washington, D.C. one day some years ago when, in one of the open spaces around the Mall, I came across a little gazebo structure, mossy and unkempt (it has since been cleaned up). Reading the inscription, I saw that it was a memorial to D.C. residents who had been killed fighting in World War One. That's the only memorial to the war that I have seen in the U.S.A., a war that took 120,000 American lives. That, and its neglected state, were striking to me because back in England, World War One was, and still is, a very big deal. Someone has said that every nation keeps a special place in its heart for its bloodiest war. For Americans, that is the Civil War; for Brits, World War One. Heck, I can remember the fuss in 1964 on the fiftieth anniversary of what everyone in England called "The Great War." There were plenty of veterans around from the Great War, including my own father. I was a student in London; we had a class trip to see Joan Littlewood's stage production of Oh! What a Lovely War, later made into a movie. I can still sing some of the songs. Peculiarities of national sentiment aside, I think it can be argued that from anyone's perspective, anyone from anywhere, World War One was the greatest civilizational catastrophe of the modern age. It brought down the empires of Russia, Austria, Germany, and the Ottoman Turks, and left Britain's empire holed below the waterline. It demoralized a whole generation of Europeans, perhaps more than one. It discredited European civilization in the eyes of other peoples; the Chinese, for example. The May Fourth movement of 1919, an indirect consequence of the war, was the birth of modern Chinese nationalism. World War One sowed the seeds of World War Two. And yes, it gave us Lenin and the totalitarian state. What a catastrophe! What mass folly! Just thinking about World War One makes it hard to hold much optimism about the future of the human race. There now: I started out the podcast depressed at President Trump's cucking; now I've depressed myself more talking about the Great War. Sorry, sorry-sorry.