Originally Posted by Teutone
In Western Europe the practice of constructive criticism has been well established. Paired with the direct vote, and different checks and balances in place, it helps to keep politicians on their toes.
Also, Europe has seen the damage caused by one Country blindly following a leader.
We all can remember citizens critical of GW's administrations policies being called 'un patriotic or traitors.'
It seems many people in the U.S. are still coming to grips with the concept.
Patriotism is different from jingoism, chauvinism and cult of personality -- which I believe you confuse or fail to separate from patriotism.
For example, Hitler used jingoistic arguments and a cult of personality to give hope to the German people who were so badly abused by the European powers following WWI.
During the war, most of the German troops were motivated by patriotism. True of any army, anywhere. Also the civilians were highly motivated by patriotism -- which usually happens in a country under threat (contrast that with the French behavior). However, an awful lot were motivated by the iron discipline and summary executions of the officer corps. Not just Waffen SS, either.
IMO, much of the official sanctions against the Waffen following the war was out of fear in the allies of the possibility that these magnificent soldiers would not surrender. So the allies made use of the FACT of the brutal violations of the Geneva Conventions by the Waffen as a tool to judicially attack and discredit the Waffen SS. It worked, too. The majority of people think of the SS as monolithic, fanatical murderers of civilians.
In the long run I believe that history will soften it's absolute condemnation of the Waffen SS and increasingly focus on the smaller units and particular commands whose conduct was used to discredit the many fine officers and soldiers who fought with unusual skill, ferocity and patriotism.