Today’s Required Reading is from Anne Applebaum. Here’s a taste:
Americans are different [from Europeans]. Americans believe clarity is a virtue and obfuscation is rude. Although I realize that this is a deeply unoriginal observation, made long ago by Henry James, Mark Twain and others, I have become convinced that these very old differences in the use of language, and in the making of speeches, have lately grown much wider. The European Union is partly to blame, as it has created a culture of overt consensus and covert disagreement. But Sept. 11, 2001, is to blame too, because it convinced many Americans that the time for talking is over and the time for action has begun. Confronted with standard diplomatic waffling, an American, nowadays, is likely to assume that the speaker’s vagueness indicates moral weakness as well.
Now go read the whole thing.