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.

Not above the law

Philippe Sands QC is director of the Centre for International Courts and Tribunals at University College London and currently speaking in Australia. During an interview on ABC TV Lateline last night, he argued that John Howard, Tony Blair and George W. Bush may one day face criminal charges over their actions in the Iraq war:

“Under international law an illegal war amounts to the crime of aggression and in some countries around the world a crime of aggression is one in which they exercise jurisdiction. So the possibility really can’t be excluded that if messrs Blair and Howard at some point in the future travel after they’ve left office to a country which, for example, has an extradition agreement with another country where you have an independent prosecutor.”

Precedents do exist. Chile’s dictator and US and British friend Augusto Pinochet always thought he would live above the law, but he will be hopefully hounded for the remainder of his life to answer charges of human rights abuses during his reign of terror. Likewise, Israel’s Ariel Sharon. He has never faced a court to answer for his role in the 1982 massacres in Sabra and Shatilla. The Belgium courts were considering pressing charges against Sharon but relented after US pressure. In early 2005, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was in the sights of the German courts for his role in torture in Iraq. And let’s not forget Henry Kissinger, friend of the rich and powerful (including NSW Premier Bob Carr). To this day, he refuses to travel to certain countries due to potential prosecution, due to his role in subverting democracies from Chile to Cambodia.

It is the height of Western imperial arrogance to suggest that only “they” – African despots, Iraqi dictators or Cambodian generals – should be held accountable for past crimes and not “us”, the benign leaders of so-called open democracies.

A victim of Pinochet’s reign of terror, tacitly supported by the US government, Joyce Horman, perfectly articulates the need for Western accountability:

“The American military and the American government have an incredible amount of power and the abuse of that power was typified by the Chilean coup. For Americans to be bumping off Americans in foreign lands is not what American citizens want their government to be doing.”

Howard, Blair and Bush have been warned.

5 comments ↪
  • Shaba-dabba-dooboo!

    Well, then, Saddam Hussein's trial is certainly legitimate for his unchecked aggression against Kuwait, his assassination attempt of GHWB, and his activities against Iraqi dissidents in other countries, including Australia. I hope you're rooting for a big ol' guilty verdict there, Ant.What about former Soviet leaders? Current Chinese leaders – if the Chen story is to be believed, and I believe it? Fidel Castro?

  • Roy Wilke

    Few people seem to have noticed that Philippe Sands QC made the same comments on Wednesday night on ABC Radio National.

  • Antony Loewenstein

    The point of international law and the development of accepted norms is that everybody, Westerners and others, should be treated the same way. It's messy, it doesn't work perfectly, but Western leaders will hopefully soon be able to charged with crimes they may have committed, and not just Third World despots etc…And yes, Saddam does seem rather guilty, but let's wait for the trial. And no, I wouldn't support the death penalty.

  • The Shab-Man!

    And the problem with international law is that it's only as good as the countries behind it, and most countries in the world are not democratic, their leaders authoritarian thugs to one degree or another, and as such they do not have any legitimate power granted by and flowing upward from the people. International law is an exceedingly slippery thing, far more slippery than you care to admit, but once you get beyond bi- or multi-lateral treaties between states then you're talking about holding legitimate democracies hostage to the whims of authoritarians with their own agendas – which is what happens when you have the moral equivalence writ large of the UN General Assembly, which exists more to protect violators of norms of behaviour than to punish them.

  • Bruce M Warrington

    If Moe thought your previous name was the worst he'd ever heard, I wonder what he'd make of your Flintstones-inspired effort in your earlier post?"Moral equivalence" – now there's a silly charge. It's nothing more than judging two things by one moral standard and reaching the same conclusion: i.e. being consistent. If you truly think that two things are not equivalent, you should explain why they're different. To decry "moral equivalence" is simply another way of saying that one must apply different moral standards to each thing. That is wrong.[Y]ou're talking about holding legitimate democracies hostage to the whims of authoritarians with their own agendasCare to explain this hyperbole?How are "legitimate democracies" held hostage? Nations are, by and large, allowed to do what they want within their own borders. What goes on inside a dictatorship has virtually no effect on the domestic life inside a democracy. It's only when nations interact that international law has any effect. Are you suggesting that "legitimate democracies" can do what they like? I doubt that the citizens of a dictatorship, whatever their opinion of their dictator, will agree with that.And what is a "legitimate democracy" anyway? Can there be an "illegitimate democracy" (Venezuela, perhaps)? Who judges?[T]he UN General Assembly … exists more to protect violators of norms of behaviour than to punish them.How does it do that? How does one punish a nation for violating norms of behaviour anyway?To take my second question first, I assume your answer is "war"; therefore, the UN General Assembly protects violators by prohibiting war.There are two things wrong with that conclusion. First, questions of war and peace are the province of the Security Council. Second, war is not necessarily the only option, nor is it even a very good option.Wars cause more death and misery than most governments, and most of the atrocities in the modern world have occurred when the perpetrating nation was fighting a war (Katyn Forest; the Holocaust; the Balkan atrocities; Saddam's gassing of the Kurds during the Iran-Iraq war; even the Rwandan genocide occurred in the context of a civil war between the government and the RPF). I, for one, would support efforts to delegitimise war and make it harder to wage.