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

The Defining Issue

For liberals, it's the lost crusade. For conservatives, it's the emblematic case of overweening big government. Perhaps more clearly than in any other issue, federal action to achieve universal health coverage brings out ideological and partisan differences in America. In the early 1990s, health care became a defining conflict for the nation, and so it remains today. The uninsured figure prominently in the debates between Al Gore and Bill Bradley, but they're only a marginal issue for the Republican presidential candidates. Polls indicate that Republican as well as Democratic voters are concerned about the abuses of managed care and the affordability of drugs and health services. But the ideal of health care for all has a more powerful emotional resonance in Democratic ranks. In a generally prosperous time when many other economic issues have become more muted, universal health care remains one cause that many people feel is worth fighting an...

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...

Postcript 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...

Liberalism After Socialism

Some have long wanted to blend socialism and liberalism in a “third way”; that idea is now in ruins. But the alternative to a socialist liberalism need not be conservative. There is a liberalism that is serious, realistic, and where necessary even radical about liberal purposes.

Over the past century, many reformers and critics in the West have believed that liberal democratic capitalism was evolving, inexorably and appropriately, toward a socialist, planned economy. Liberalism even in its modern form has seemed to them transitional and incomplete, outdated in its individualism, unsatisfying in its conception of the good life and the good society, inadequate to the demands of justice. Socialism would take civilization to a higher stage; it would fulfill ideals that liberalism professed but failed to honor, as well as ideals that liberalism failed even to profess. Those who have taken this view have not necessarily been Marxists. Most have been devoted to movements of reform rather than revolution and sought an alternative system that they hoped would achieve the best of both worlds, preserving the political freedoms of liberal democracy while introducing the economic planning, public ownership, and economic equality of socialism. This is the synthesis that...

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