Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein trav­els across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Australia to witness the reality of disaster capitalism. He discovers how companies such as G4S, Serco, and Halliburton cash in on or­ganized misery in a hidden world of privatized detention centers, militarized private security, aid profiteering, and destructive mining.

Disaster has become big business. Talking to immigrants stuck in limbo in Britain or visiting immigration centers in America, Loewenstein maps the secret networks formed to help cor­porations bleed what profits they can from economic crisis. He debates with Western contractors in Afghanistan, meets the locals in post-earthquake Haiti, and in Greece finds a country at the mercy of vulture profiteers. In Papua New Guinea, he sees a local commu­nity forced to rebel against predatory resource companies and NGOs.

What emerges through Loewenstein’s re­porting is a dark history of multinational corpo­rations that, with the aid of media and political elites, have grown more powerful than national governments. In the twenty-first century, the vulnerable have become the world’s most valu­able commodity. Disaster Capitalism is published by Verso in 2015 and in paperback in January 2017.

Profits_of_doom_cover_350Vulture capitalism has seen the corporation become more powerful than the state, and yet its work is often done by stealth, supported by political and media elites. The result is privatised wars and outsourced detention centres, mining companies pillaging precious land in developing countries and struggling nations invaded by NGOs and the corporate dollar. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and across Australia to witness the reality of this largely hidden world of privatised detention centres, outsourced aid, destructive resource wars and militarized private security. Who is involved and why? Can it be stopped? What are the alternatives in a globalised world? Profits of Doom, published in 2013 and released in an updated edition in 2014, challenges the fundamentals of our unsustainable way of life and the money-making imperatives driving it. It is released in an updated edition in 2014.
forgodssakecover Four Australian thinkers come together to ask and answer the big questions, such as: What is the nature of the universe? Doesn't religion cause most of the conflict in the world? And Where do we find hope?   We are introduced to different belief systems – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and to the argument that atheism, like organised religion, has its own compelling logic. And we gain insight into the life events that led each author to their current position.   Jane Caro flirted briefly with spiritual belief, inspired by 19th century literary heroines such as Elizabeth Gaskell and the Bronte sisters. Antony Loewenstein is proudly culturally, yet unconventionally, Jewish. Simon Smart is firmly and resolutely a Christian, but one who has had some of his most profound spiritual moments while surfing. Rachel Woodlock grew up in the alternative embrace of Baha'i belief but became entranced by its older parent religion, Islam.   Provocative, informative and passionately argued, For God's Sakepublished in 2013, encourages us to accept religious differences, but to also challenge more vigorously the beliefs that create discord.  
After Zionism, published in 2012 and 2013 with co-editor Ahmed Moor, brings together some of the world s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably. This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Antony Loewenstein, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ahmed Moor, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.
The 2008 financial crisis opened the door for a bold, progressive social movement. But despite widespread revulsion at economic inequity and political opportunism, after the crash very little has changed. Has the Left failed? What agenda should progressives pursue? And what alternatives do they dare to imagine? Left Turn, published by Melbourne University Press in 2012 and co-edited with Jeff Sparrow, is aimed at the many Australians disillusioned with the political process. It includes passionate and challenging contributions by a diverse range of writers, thinkers and politicians, from Larissa Berendht and Christos Tsiolkas to Guy Rundle and Lee Rhiannon. These essays offer perspectives largely excluded from the mainstream. They offer possibilities for resistance and for a renewed struggle for change.
The Blogging Revolution, released by Melbourne University Press in 2008, is a colourful and revelatory account of bloggers around the globe why live and write under repressive regimes - many of them risking their lives in doing so. Antony Loewenstein's travels take him to private parties in Iran and Egypt, internet cafes in Saudi Arabia and Damascus, to the homes of Cuban dissidents and into newspaper offices in Beijing, where he discovers the ways in which the internet is threatening the ruld of governments. Through first-hand investigations, he reveals the complicity of Western multinationals in assisting the restriction of information in these countries and how bloggers are leading the charge for change. The blogging revolution is a superb examination about the nature of repression in the twenty-first century and the power of brave individuals to overcome it. It was released in an updated edition in 2011, post the Arab revolutions, and an updated Indian print version in 2011.
The best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question - on Jewish identity, the Zionist lobby, reporting from Palestine and future Middle East directions - was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006. A new, updated edition was released in 2007 (and reprinted again in 2008). The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. Another fully updated, third edition was published in 2009. It was released in all e-book formats in 2011. An updated and translated edition was published in Arabic in 2012.

Indepedence…to the US

April 29 is the 40-year anniversary of Australia committing troops to Vietnam. It was a disastrous war, killing hundreds of conscripted young men. When Australia withdrew in 1973 under Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, the country had decisively turned against the imperial deceptions of the Americans. The current Governor-General Michael Jeffrey, who fought in Vietnam, still believes in the correctness of the war – saying a few years ago: “I believe passionately that Vietnam was a just cause in the circumstances of the time” – but for most Australians, the Vietnam War was nothing but folly.

The Communist “threat” was constructed and manipulated for geo-political gain in the unhallowed halls of Washington. Canberra went along for the ride, deceiving its citizens with an initially unquestioning media. John Pilger says that the invasion and devastation of Vietnam can be directly linked to today’s Iraq. “It is the essence of imperialism, a word only now being restored to our dictionaries. It is racism.”

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alan Ramsey reminds us why this anniversary is so important. When then Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced Australia’s involvement in Vietnam in 1965, he stated that a request had arrived for assistance from the South Vietnamese. The American President, Lyndon Johnson was “delighted” with our acquiesce. Years later, it was revealed that no such request ever came and the Americans were simply hoping that other nations would see the benefit of being by its side.

Fast forward to the latest engagement. John Howard gave a commitment to George W. Bush as far back as September 2002 to join the “Coalition of the Unwilling”, ideally with a UN resolution, though how important this was to Howard remains unclear. British Prime Minister Tony Blair may have given his country’s commitment in April 2002. Neither leader informed the public of their true plans and remain aloof to this day. Indeed, the legality of the war remains (marginally) unclear, and in the UK the situation seems dubious at best. In Australia, Howard would rather this debate became irrelevant and no legal advice has ever been released. Surely a government with nothing to hide would thrust the truthfulness of their claims into the hands of anybody interested?

This brings up the current ASEAN debate. Australia is attempting to gain entry to the forthcoming meeting of South-East Asian nations. A sticking point is the reservation of the Howard government to sign a non-aggression pact. Howard made the oafish comment in 2004 that, “If I believed that there were going to be an attack, a terrorist attack on Australia and there was no alternative but action being taken by Australia I would unhesitatingly take it to prevent that attack occurring.” It was a statement that caused many Asian countries grief and contributed to the theory that Howard’s Australia is little more than an obedient US outpost. Pre-emptive strikes should have no place in 99% of modern diplomacy.

New Zealand has agreed to sign the pact. Australia’s Foreign Minister Alexander Downer responded with typical sensitivity: “Australia is a proud and independent country, we’re able to beat New Zealand at rugby, we thrash them at cricket and there is no reason why we should always do what New Zealand does. We’re a more confident country than that.” Or not. The report details Australia’s concerns that signing the pact might upset America. So how independent are we really?

Recent visits by Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and the Malaysian Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi has brought near uniform praise and uncritical adulation by the Australian media. The Sydney Morning Herald tells us that, “The democratic election of Dr Yudhoyono in Indonesia means Australia has a new reformist partner, unafraid of confronting corruption and human rights abuses at home.” New Zealand, unlike Australia, still refuses to even discuss the idea of restarting military co-operation with Indonesia. And human rights abuses continue in West Papua and Aceh. By all means welcome renewed positive relations between Australia and our region, but leave the scepticism intact. When Prime Minister Bob Hawke champagne toasted the dictator Soeharto during his first overseas trip as head of state in 1983, he said: “We know your people love you.”

Australia’s world-standing has taken a battering in the last decade. We may be receiving praise from the Bush administration, but harsh criticism elsewhere. Our government claims independence but is in fact increasingly dependent on US approval.

Yesterday’s lies on Vietnam are being repeated with Iraq and once again subservience to the whims of the White House is paramount. Our position in Asia is unsure. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

7 comments ↪
  • J F

    Australia became involved in Vietnam because of the perceived communist threat. Whereas communism was not a direct threat to the US, it was seen as a direct threat to Australia.Nice try.

  • Antony Loewenstein

    Surely we aren't still seriously discussing whether communism was a threat to Australia? Our involvement in that war, proved through mountains of documents, was to keep the US happy, a problem saying 'no' to American requests, and a misguided belief and understanding of regional politics.

  • kooka

    Re Vietnam: both major troop withdrawals were initiated by Liberal governments. Whitlam brought a few remaining troops home and did the symbolism. As always.As for signing the regional treaty – Labor slogans like 'arselicking' and 'forelock tugging' come to mind.

  • J F

    Communism was perceived to be a threat. There is a mountain of documents; try Google.

  • Anonymous

    A) Communism was a threat, and was/is an evil ideology comparable to Naziism.B) If we were in ASEAN, we never would have been able to help out East Timor, at least according to the treaty.

  • syed-m

    Just because Communism was perceived to be a threat doesn't mean it actually was a threat. It certainly isn't an adequate justification for Australian involvement in the invasion of Vietnam.Nice post Antony. Re 'don't let anyone tell you otherwise'. One more thing (well amongst other things but life is short). Don't let anyone tell you that what Bush's regime is doing around the world is some radical departure from the past. Remember, it was the 'leftist' Kennedy, and his Democratic successor Johnson, who began the US invasion of Vietnam (before them, the US supported France's colonial ambitions in the region). Countless millions of Indochinese were killed during the war (literally countless. Like Iraq, Afghanistan and other places, no adequate body count of the locals has ever been conducted). Such is the arrogance of powerful societies, not to mention latent racism, that people can casually justify the invasion of Vietnam on the basis of some perceived threat from Communism. Yet if the Vietnamese even dared to seek reparations from our governments for the damage and loss of life caused there would be mass incomprehension.

  • Antony Loewenstein

    Very true words. I remember a number of commentaries before the last US election saying that Bush and Kerry were essentially the same. At least Bush was open about his plans for the world, while the Democrats act similarly, but couch it in 'kinder' language.The illegal bombing of Cambodia by Kissinger, for example, killed countless thousands, and yet he is still lauded in elite circles, including NSW Premier Bob Carr. Shows their true colours.Thankfully more people are starting to understand the true motivations of these colonial wars, despite the media bidding supporting them.