No, I'm not trying to diminish the role of European nations.
Well, you should. You should diminish American participation. And everyone else's too.
WWI was a war between empires to decide which alliance gets to rule everything. There was no "good side" in WWI, everyone was bad, though not "horribly bad". Just run of the mill "I'll steal your stuff" kind of bad, nowhere near "murder you for how you look" type of bad.
Do not project WWII sentiments on WWI. WWII was as close to good vs. bad as real war can go, in WWI all major sides were the same, motivated by greed and imperialism. Those who fought in WWI are victims, fools and often both. Attribution of heroism should be reserved for those who fought for worthy cause, like stopping the nazis in the next war over.