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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

Next Stop Iran?

During the early Cold War, while right-wingers called for the rollback of Soviet communism, the strategists of containment argued that the United States ought to be patient, confident that internal forces would weaken communism from within and that the “gravitational” force of a revived Western Europe would eventually draw Moscow's satellites out of its orbit. It took decades, but the strategy worked. We can only imagine the toll in human life if the advocates of rollback had been in charge and led the West into war with Russia. Unfortunately, the people running U.S. policy today are the spiritual descendants of the right-wing promoters of rollback, and the toll from their policies grows every day. The United States was containing Saddam Hussein successfully before George W. Bush decided on a course of preventive war and regime change in Iraq. All that has happened since is a cautionary tale about American hubris. Whether the U.S. invasion will eventually succeed in bringing about...

Bush vs. Constitution

Repeatedly through our history, the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution have been threatened in war by an overreacting government and then reaffirmed in peace by calmer leadership. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus , the suppression of free speech during and after World War I, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, McCarthyism, and the wiretapping of Vietnam-era dissenters -- all of these came to be seen, once fears subsided, as violations of our freedoms and embarrassments to our heritage. George W. Bush's presidency is another era of overreaction at the expense of constitutional rights, but the prospects for a quick correction are not auspicious. Nothing has helped end earlier bouts of repression so much as the fact that the wars themselves came to a close, and nothing has so exposed our liberties to indefinite jeopardy as the conception of a “war on terrorism” with no end. The president claims an inherent power to...

Starting Over

In his State of the Union address in January, George W. Bush is widely expected to try to relaunch his presidency. That he needs a new start is a reflection of just how badly his second term has gone, even in the eyes of conservatives. His domestic initiatives regarding Social Security and tax reform are dead in the water, and every milestone in Iraq has proved to be a mirage. Still, he is president for another three years, the future of our country depends on his decisions, and the potential damage to the nation from a failed presidency and fruitless war puts the opposition in a difficult position. We can visualize the moment when Bush enters the House of Representatives for the annual rite. Democrats as well as Republicans will greet him with a thunderous ovation, and after he is introduced they will rise to applaud again. With Dick Cheney and Dennis Hastert sitting behind him, the president will tell us that the state of our union is strong. The boyish smile will then fade from his...

Starting Over

In his state of the union address in January, George W. Bush is widely expected to try to relaunch his presidency. That he needs a new start is a reflection of just how badly his second term has gone, even in the eyes of conservatives. His domestic initiatives regarding Social Security and tax reform are dead in the water, and every milestone in Iraq has proved to be a mirage. Still, he is president for another three years, the future of our country depends on his decisions, and the potential damage to the nation from a failed presidency and fruitless war puts the opposition in a difficult position. We can visualize the moment when Bush enters the House of Representatives for the annual rite. Democrats as well as Republicans will greet him with a thunderous ovation, and after he is introduced they will rise to applaud again. With Dick Cheney and Dennis Hastert sitting behind him, the president will tell us that the state of our union is strong. The boyish smile will then fade from his...

Slouching Toward Disaster

Most of us do not ordinarily consider our lives to be at stake in matters of public policy. The prospect of an avian flu pandemic, however, puts us all in jeopardy, and if the dilatory response of the Bush administration proves fatal in this case as it did after August 2001, when the president was told that Osama bin Laden was about to strike within the United States yet did nothing, or in the years leading up to Hurricane Katrina, when engineers repeatedly warned that the levees in New Orleans were inadequate, we will pay an even greater price for our slothful, ideologically driven, and crony-ridden national leadership than in either of the epochal disasters that have so far befallen America in the Bush years. Scientific concern about avian flu did not just emerge recently, though one might have thought so from the flurry of administration activity this past month. Nor is the concern about a pandemic solely the result of the appearance of the H5N1 virus and the high mortality rate...

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