"We shook hands, wished each other a Merry Xmas, and were soon conversing as if we had known each other for years. We were in front of their wire entanglements and surrounded by Germans - Fritz and I in the center talking, and Fritz occasionally translating to his friends what I was saying. We stood inside the circle like street corner orators. Soon most of our company ('A' Company), hearing that I and some others had gone out, followed us . . . What a sight - little groups of Germans and British extending almost the length of our front! Out of the darkness we could hear laughter and see lighted matches, a German lighting a Scotchman's cigarette and vice versa, exchanging cigarettes and souvenirs. Where they couldn't talk the language they were making themselves understood by signs, and everyone seemed to be getting on nicely. Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill!"
Many in the west have this idea that since Germany was so evil in WWII it must have been in WWI. Well... It wasn't, in fact they were not the ones who started the war. It is true they were the aggressors on the western front, and they were far from being good guys, but it was not as clear cut as WWII.
One has to wonder, why were they fighting? All these countries had wealth and resources in various colonies. They were (with exception of the Ottomans) Christian nations. It was not a clash of political ideologies. All except France were monarchies of one form or another. Why were they fighting? Yes, Yes, I know the history. The assassination of the Arch Duke blah blah blah. They could have worked out a solution without war.
I think the real reason is; most of these countries had given far too much power their monarchs. Austria's royal family wanted blood. The Tsar in Russia wanted to redeem himself from the Russo-Japanese war. The Kaiser wanted to show his cousins in England, how great his nation was.
We can see time and time again throughout history, nations governed primarily by executive power have a far greater tendency to go to war. Look at the aggressors in WWII: Hitler, Hirohito, and Mussolini. Can you recall any modern instance in which two governments with limited executive power went to war against each other? I think this is one reason why our founders gave the power to declare war to the legislative branch and not the executive. The Constitution is clear that only Congress can declare war, yet Congress has not declared war since after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
After WWII the U.N, was created. If the U.N. was to be more successful than the League of Nations it would have to have teeth. The United States became the military and economic force that drove the U.N., but this would have never been possible if America had kept following constitutional limits. No congress in their right mind would declare war as part of a U.N. effort. To give the U.N. power it needed Harry Truman found a loophole he called the Korea a police action, not a war. Look at the numbers, America made up the vast majority of the U.N. forces. The same police action excuse was used in Vietnam.
Congress went along with all of this because it relieved them of the possible unpopular consequences of war. The executive branch has no desire to give this power back. After 911, we could have easily had Congress declare war on the Taliban in Afghanistan, but we did not even bother, neither side wants things the way they were. We do not even try to call it a police action anymore. Eisenhower tried to warn us, but we would not listen:
So… We have become the police force of the world. Since Harry Truman we have had more men killed in war, than any other Western nation. We spend more on defense than any other four nations combined, and congress gets plenty of money from defense contractors to keep it this way.
Some will say that Congress can always defund the war if they disagree. Really? Can you imagine any situation in which a congress would ever completely cut off the troops on the front line? If they did that, the executive branch would have a willing military remove them by force, and the people would rightfully cheer. It is the job of Congress to debate and decide on war before it begins, not after, and they have lost that power. Our executive branch has too much power. This is why we are in so many wars.
I am not saying we should never go to war. I certainly disprove of protesting a war while we have men fighting and dying. I am saying, we need to get back to a checks and balances system, back to our constitutional limits.