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

No Choice but War?

I should be among the supporters of an invasion of Iraq. A decade ago, after Iraq seized Kuwait, I agreed with the decision to go to war and wrote in The New Republic , at the start of the conflict, that allied forces should go all the way to Baghdad. My view was that Saddam Hussein had forfeited the legitimacy of his regime, and, having resolved not to let his aggression stand, we ought to deny him any chance for revenge. When the first President Bush called off our attack, I was bitterly disappointed. Eleven years later, I have no doubt that Saddam is a menace, but the circumstances are different today. Then, Iraq violated the sovereignty of another state, and our response affirmed the framework of international law and security. Now, we would be violating Iraq's sovereignty without clear provocation, undertaking a preemptive war that is itself a destabilizing threat to international security. Then, we had overwhelming international support; now, we face overwhelming opposition...

9-11, One Year Later

S eptember 11 will be commemorated this year as a day of national and private grief, but it is also a political anniversary. One year ago, the post–Cold War era came to an end and a new phase in our country's history began. What this new phase will be -- whether the September 11 attacks will stand as an isolated episode or initiate a longer and perhaps more dreadful chain of events -- we cannot possibly know. The past year, however, has already told us a great deal about the strengths and limitations of President George W. Bush's response to 9-11 and the definition that he has given to this new stage in our nation's life. In the immediate aftermath, the president got one critically important thing right: the prosecution of the war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Perhaps the United States should have obtained more international backing from the start. But because America was attacked, there was little serious question that we had the right of "hot pursuit" -- the right, that is, to...

The Great Telecom Implosion

T he dimensions of the collapse in the telecommunications industry during the past two years have been staggering. Half a million people have lost their jobs. In that time, the Dow Jones communication technology index has dropped 86 percent; the wireless communications index, 89 percent. These are declines in value worthy of comparison to the great crash of 1929. Out of the $7 trillion decline in the stock market since its peak, about $2 trillion have disappeared in the capitalization of telecom companies. Twenty-three telecom companies have gone bankrupt in a wave capped off by the July 21 collapse of WorldCom, the single largest bankruptcy in American history. And the storm is not over. Many other firms, including some of the biggest, are teetering under a heavy load of debt. Altogether, the industry owes a trillion dollars, "much of which will never be repaid and will have to be written off by investors," Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell told the Senate...

How Bushes Get Beaten

O nly a short time ago the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, whoever that might be, seemed to face two possibilities: losing to George W. Bush by a respectable margin or being wiped out in a colossal landslide. Such dismal prospects, if they had persisted into next year, would have hampered Democratic fund raising and put the entire 2004 ticket at risk of being overwhelmed by a spiral of despondency and self-fulfilling expectations of defeat. But the picture looks different now that corporate scandals and panicky markets have reframed the national conversation and put Republicans on the defensive. The new political climate has boosted Democrats' morale going into the midterm elections, made a victory in 2004 entirely plausible and helped to clarify what Democratic primary voters may be looking for in a presidential nominee. Although history never repeats itself, the emerging framework of politics bears some resemblance to the situation that developed before the 1992 election...

The New Politics of Diversity

A ffirmative action in higher education is almost certainly on its way back to the Supreme Court in the wake of contradictory appellate decisions about racial preferences in admissions. Ten years ago it seemed that the Court might strike down affirmative action altogether in public universities. While that conceivably could still happen, the political context has substantially changed, and the outcome is now more likely to be an adjustment of policies in support of diversity rather than their abrupt reversal. And for that blessing we have to thank the interplay of demography and politics and a subtle shift in American ideals. Demographic change is a slow force that typically works beneath the surface of politics, only occasionally breaking into view. The rise of the Hispanic population is the most conspicuous example of the process today. Though they were only 7 percent of the electorate in 2000 (when Gore enjoyed a 36-point edge among them), Hispanics are certain to gain power at the...

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