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.

Pushing war with Iran

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is arguably Washington’s most powerful lobby group. The organisation holds extreme views on the Israel/Palestine conflict and has been a long-time opponent of negotiation with the Palestinians. Indeed, AIPAC’s public and private persona couldn’t be more different. Jeffrey Blankfort reported in 2003: “It [AIPAC] wanted to appear to be supportive of the ‘road map,’ while working to derail it.” The uniformity of consensus within Washington towards Israel is partly due to the effectiveness of AIPAC’s intense lobbying. Any Congressman or woman who dares speak out against Israel or its policies will find a better funded opponent next election.

Last August came a bombshell. It emerged that Larry Franklin, the Pengaton’s then top Iran desk officer, met repeatedly with Naor Gilon, head of the political department at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and a specialist on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Juan Cole reported last year: “Franklin did succeed in giving a confidential draft presidential directive on Iran to AIPAC officials, who then passed it to someone at the Israeli Embassy, perhaps Gilon. It is telling that the official took hard copy from AIPAC, presumably because he trusted them implicitly, whereas Gilon had rejected it from Franklin.”

But does all this mean? The facts in this case still remain unclear but more pieces of the puzzle are emerging. AIPAC supports “regime change” in Iran. The removal of the mullahs in Tehran would eradicate another regional enemy of Israel, so the thinking goes. A number of senior members of the Bush administration are also opposed to Iran and support military action against the country’s supposed nuclear capabilities. The involvement of a lobby group in the formulation of government policy strikes at the heart of America’s faltering democracy.

Franklin surrendered to the FBI yesterday to face charges of illegal disclosure of classified information to AIPAC. This development, and much of this story, has received virtually no media coverage in Australia, and little in the US. Gorilla in the Room has summarised the major questions arising out of the latest revelations. These include:

– Franklin is known to have passed onto two now former senior AIPAC officials, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, “a draft Presidential decision directive which would have, if approved, made regime change rather than negotiation official U.S. policy toward Iran.”

– A major goal of the Israeli government is military action against Iran. AIPAC, an American proxy of the Israeli government, with Franklin’s help, has been pressuring members of Congress to support military strikes against Iran.

– What does the FBI have on AIPAC? It is quite possible that the Jewish lobby group would be exposed as leading the charge against Iraq. Phonetaps undoubtedly exist. Gorilla: “After all, the Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon was very heavily staffed with political appointees with very close personal ties to Israel. (This is the truth that dare not speak its name, but it’s critical to understanding how the U.S. got snookered into invading Iraq.)”

– How much of the bogus intelligence used by America and its allies to justify action against Iraq came from Israeli intelligence sources? And is similarly flawed intelligence being used to lead the charge against Iran? When Ariel Sharon recently met Bush, he presented the US President with evidence that “proved” Iran was “near a point of no return” on its nuclear program.

– The infamous case of the forged documents related to alleged sales of uranium yellowcake from Niger to Iraq, infamously used by Bush in his State of the Union address in 2003. Somebody forged the documents. But whom? It seems unlikely that the Israelis did it, despite their large support for the Iraq invasion. Exposure would have resulted in a uncomfortable relationship between Israel and the US. But did one of the neo-cons do it for them? Larry Franklin perhaps? A timeline suggests this may have been the case.

The seriousness of these allegations has resulted in the mainstream media backing away from covering it in much detail at all. Discussion of the influence of Israel and its agents in America, and indeed Australia, remains one of the last great taboos.

Journalists should be demanding answers to these key questions:

1) Did we (America and its allies) invade Iraq partially due to pressure from the Israel lobby?

2) Are we moving in a similiar direction with Iran based on identical motives?

3) Does AIPAC’s equivalent in Australia, AIJAC – a long-time supporter of war against Iraq and now making hawkish noises towards Iran – present Australian government officials with intelligence of Iran’s “imminent threat”? Is there a possibility that a Larry Franklin equivalent exists in Australia, passing classified information to Israeli lobby groups?

Until a full investigation is conducted into AIPAC and its proxies in the Bush administration (unlikely to happen in the current political climate in Washington) we won’t know the true impact and long-time ramifications of even partially subverting foreign policy to the Middle East only “democracy.”

UPDATE: Haaretz provides a less than thorough “analysis” of the latest developments.

UPDATE 2: The New York Times covers the case.

one comment ↪
  • Glenn Condell

    An acquaintance of mine, of Arab descent, used always to intone the following remark at the conclusion of any discussion of US/Israeli relations…'Israel is the rider, America the horse'.Isn't there a danger that someone, 'some strange beast', at some stage, perhaps when the economic shit really hits the fan and/or a whole platoon of grunts gets clipped by insurgents on primetime… isn't it possible that a charismatic, all American, latter day Barry Goldwater type will emerge from backwoods America to reveal the 'gorilla in the room' in no uncertain terms, destroying the artfully arranged and strictly maintained 'story' of US/Israeli relations by forcefully demonstrating not just the corruption and venality and self-interest at it's heart (not necessarily a major concern for his constituency) but how by virtually every measure, on almost every issue, the US has been screwed, lied to, stolen from and used, much of this too, being accomplished by Israeli partisans (but American citizens) who have cloaked their treasonous behaviour at the apogee of US governance (paying their own bills with American blood, bought with lies) with a veil of treacly US nationalism and patriotic boilerplate, backed by ready resort to disinformation and intimidation and probably worse?A bit of Pat Buchanan, some David Duke, a dash of Joe McCarthy. An articulate demagogue who won't cut his cloth to Zionist patterns as all US politicians presently do and who, by the simple but forgotten virtue of cussedness, refuses to toe the well-trodden line, starting a debate that, despite the heroically undemocratic efforts of the AIPACS and ADLs and JINSAs to silence it, spirals out into the public sphere as a spark, which in air parched dry by decades of untruth, explodes into an inferno of 'fifth column' and 'dual loyalty' ugliness, the scales falling from a hundred million eyes as their owners decide to reassert 'Christian' and 'American' virtues at the heart of their great nation, and so on til your ears hurt. This scenario becomes more likely if any Mossad involvement in 911, for which there are disturbing signs, can be proved.Sorry, I have these apocalyptic visions. Such a person is of course likely to be cut off at the knees while still in short shorts… there will be film of him jacking off in a motel room or taking a backhander for a friendly vote. Even without that, he would be suffocated by a lack of oxygen, no news being good news in that information-poor society. But the mob is a dangerous thing and it can be unpredictable when the going gets tough. A severe recession and no amount of media control will prevent people asking the relevant questions, at last. And getting some answers too, though not always the correct ones.Which is where our 'beast' begins to slouch toward Washington (Yeats inference copyright T Dunlop) – the problem being that babies will be thrown out with bathwater in a typical American orgy of fright, so that some of it's worthiest citizens, people at the forefront of principled opposition, might be tarred by their ethno-religious association with the spies and fifth columnists.And so we'll have a situation where ignorant, frightened Americans will have been successively manipulated to mistrust the Muslims, then the Jews. It always has to be someone else's fault and if the Muslim/Arab experience is any guide, Jews will want to avoid it.Still, it's kite-flying isn't it? While you don't even have to imagine American eagerness to overreact against Muslims to the extent of say, killing tens of thousands of innocent people, trying to imagine anything more than a mild rebuke to Israel for anything, even treason, military spying, sale of secrets to 3rd party powers… well, it's a stretch. Which again, is where our 'beast' comes in. I don't think he will appear, and I hope to God he doesn't, but there is a strong desire in me and many others for that blindfold that keeps America separate from the rest of us more than any other issue, to be lifted, ripped away, so that they can begin to make decisions (which affect all our futures) on facts rather than fantasies.Problem is such a figure may not be interested in facts, or decisions that benefit people who can't vote for him. He may be more interested in his own fantasies and they might be worse than what they replace. He may be bent solely on painting his quarry as 'unAmerican' (wherever could such awful tactics come from, Virginia?) and so a nuance-free, all or nothing American crusade might emerge, paying as little heed to balance or proportion as the current one does, less if it's accompanied by rising prices and unemployment.If anything like this scenario occurs, the busy bees at AIPAC and it's brood, the multiplicity of Likudnik drones in the media and their brethren in the corridors of power can be thanked. A polity, a super-polity naturally disposed to amity and support will have been rendered neutral, maybe even antagonistic by the realisation that they've been had, with little to show for it but a ruined economy, hundreds of dead soldiers, thousands of dead civilians and the enmity of the world. It will by that time be too late to blame Bill Clinton, and some under the reign of our antisemitic beast who are blessed with, or afflicted by a long memory, might find themselves longing for a leader with his nous and balance. I haven't read Philip Roth's latest book 'The Plot Against Ameica' but I have read about it, and I wonder if it's genesis lies in this same sort of fear. Let's hope we're wrong.