Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of the The American Prospect. and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the Bancroft Prize in American history, he is the author of seven books, including most recently Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Heath Care Reform (Yale University Press, revised ed. 2013). Click here to read more about Starr.

Recent Articles

Vulnerable Washington

In Washington, it could have been much worse. As a military strike, while the terrorists' attack succeeded in New York, it failed in the capital -- but for reasons that we cannot depend upon to protect us in the future. The bravery of a few passengers on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania prevented it from reaching its target, and for reasons as yet unknown the plane originating at Dulles that was streaking toward the White House veered and struck the Pentagon, killing a large number of people but failing to hit any command-related functions. The dangers now are evident. Just as hijackings were epidemic three decades ago, so we face the risk that new hijackers will follow the example of these attacks. Just as the terrorists returned to the World Trade Center, so their successors may try to finish the job in the capital, if not tomorrow, then a few years from now. The highest levels of our government are astonishingly vulnerable. All our major national institutions -- the executive...

The War We Should Fight

L et there be no doubt that America is justified in going to war against what President Bush describes as terrorism of "global reach." After September 11, we have to assume that any group willing to kill thousands of people in the World Trade Center's twin towers would be willing to use weapons of mass destruction. We have every right to defend ourselves by pursuing such terrorists not only in the United States and nations that ally themselves with us, but also in the countries that provide havens for them. Yet while a war is justified, it is not at all clear what kind of war it should be. There are both practical and moral risks of overextending American power and generating new troubles for ourselves and our friends in the Islamic world. Even the administration, which seems agreed on short-term objectives, is divided between those who favor an escalating war against an array of states (notably including Iraq) and those who favor a delimited war in Afghanistan. Amid the spectrum of...

Poscript to The Choice In Kosovo

When I wrote "The Choice In Kosovo" in early May, the failure of the United States and NATO to make a credible threat of a ground invasion seemed likely to result in a diplomatic settlement that fell far short of the legitimate aims of the war. A month later, these concerns have only partially been borne out. Milosevic has accepted the terms presented by NATO (and negotiated with Russia), calling for the withdrawal of Serbian forces, entry of an international peacekeeping force including NATO, repatriation of the refugees, disarming of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and apparently indefinite Yugoslavian sovereignty over Kosovo. The exact terms of the agreement and their practical implementation remain murky; in particular, it is unclear what control, if any, the Serbs will retain over Kosovo. Perhaps most unfortunate, Milosevic will stay in power unless the Serbs themselves depose him. In this regard, we are left with an outcome similar to the Gulf War; just as Saddam survived to...

Collateral Gains

Even before the jubilation in Kuwait City died down -- indeed, even before the Gulf War ended in a decisive allied victory -- many who warned that the war would go badly were warning that the war's aftermath would go badly. That is a safe prediction. No one has ever won a nickel betting on peace and harmony in the Middle East or gained a reputation for political clairvoyance by predicting that a war in the region would end its ancient conflicts. But for all the postwar uncertainties, there ought to be no remaining doubt that the Gulf War was worth fighting and winning. In liberating Kuwait, we blocked the attempted murder of a country. In defeating Iraq, we averted the danger that an aggressive, militarist regime, hostile to liberty, might have continued to accumulate oil wealth, transform it into yet greater military force, intimidate and take over other nations in the region, and then -- as it acquired nuclear weapons -- reach a threshold of virtually impregnable power. Preventing...

The Cultural Enemy Within

In the past year, the opinion has gained currency, particularly in conservative circles, that the great ideological battles of our time are shifting to the terrain of culture. The controversies over free speech and the arts; multiculturalism and education; the relevance of gender, race, and class to the study of the humanities and society; the relation between popular and high culture; the prominence of violence and sexuality in popular music and the mass media -- these and other questions have been stirring stronger passions, at least on campuses and the opinion pages, than any dispute over economic policy or electoral politics. Indeed, in America today it often seems that genuinely interesting political issues are more likely to turn up in an art exhibit or a curriculum dispute than in an election campaign. When controversy shifts from economic to cultural questions, the right today becomes the party of alarm and indignation. To listen to some cultural conservatives -- not merely to...

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