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.

Fiction and fact


The Age’s Tory, Tony Parkinson, on what Tony Blair can teach our ALP:

“This week, as Latham raged bitterly against party colleagues, the media, and “the system”, Blair was delivering to his party conference a speech rated as among the best of his prime ministership: bold, resolute, challenging, uplifting.

“For a man written off not so long ago as a leader in terminal decline, this was a vibrant, high-intensity performance, reminding critics that Blair is far from a spent force. Confident about who he is, and what he stands for, the British PM appears also to have an acute sense of what matters most in the lives of those he is elected to lead.

“The contrast with the identity crisis of the ALP could not be more pronounced.”


The Guardian’s John Harris on why Blair’s Labor conference is “so scared of debate“:

“…With the [Labor] party long since becalmed and the activists still on board adjusted to the supposedly tough realities of power, those at the top would have us believe that Labour now moves with a hard-headed kind of rationality. But strangeness still rules – only now, riotous chaos has been replaced by a bizarre spirit of contorted denial. What, you wonder, does the outside world make of the fact that repeatedly hailing the London Olympic bid is obligatory, but mentions of Iraq must be avoided? How about the news that on the second day, Labour’s National Executive resolved not to make any decisions on what resolutions to back, so as to avoid being “divisive”? And what of the see-through fact that the debates are so transparently managed?”

Parkinson is right. Blair is a figure to be admired and cherished. Shame about those pesky Iraqis murdered in the name of “freedom.” Parkinson should listen to David Clark, former Labour government adviser:

“On Iraq Blair is not simply discredited: his personal pride has become a fundamental obstacle to any rational discussion about what now needs to happen. It has been obvious for some time that the presence of British and American troops is causing more problems than it solves, but to change policy would be to admit error and that is something he will never do. As long as Blair remains in office, saving face will take precedence over saving lives.”

Parkinson reminds me of a belligerent child, not unlike James Morrow, an American Sydney-based journalist that I debated last night. The topic was “Why Hate America?” Morrow insisted that the anti-war movement in America was “petering out”, we shouldn’t really care about the environment and global warming because that was little more than praying to an Earth goddess and the Vietnam war was perhaps slightly misguided but essentially about eradicating Communism in Vietnam.

When I suggested that Iraq was never about spreading freedom and democracy in the Middle East, Morrow suggested that George W. Bush had said otherwise during his State of the Union address and therefore should be taken at face value. He seemed perplexed when I dared suggest Iraq was strongly aligning with Iran, America’s new whipping boy.

Morrow was pleasant enough, but seemed to live in a world of absolutes, good vs. evil, a kind of Fox News/Weekly Standard perspective. There’s a term for such individuals who love using the American military to spread “freedom”: chicken hawk.

Let me make a reasoned suggestion. Morrow needs to get out more and actually meet some of the millions of Muslims who feel outraged by America’s “War on Terror”. They can smell hypocrisy a mile away and Bush’s America is their justified focus. They wonder why the freedom-loving USA supports despotic regimes around the world. They’re curious why Iran’s nuclear capability is unacceptable but Israel’s is encouraged. And they’d like to know how many innocent Iraqis can be killed by the Americans or the insurgents – most of whom started their campaign of terror after the US invasion – before the Americans realise a terrible mistake has been made.

When will the Morrows of this world actually look beyond the corridors of Washington, London and Canberra for the true price of Western policies?


Beating the British

George W. Bush on Iraq:

“”We can expect they’ll [the insurgency] do everything in their power to try to stop the march of freedom. And our troops are ready for it.”

It seems the Australian media have largely decided that Iraq is in such a dire state that honest and brave reporting is simply too difficult. Where are the reports on Australia’s actions in the country? Where are the questions to leading parliamentarians regarding our troops? Surely the tax-paying public has a right to know what we’re doing over there.

The British press are a little braver. This week’s New Statesman provides a chilling insight into British troops in the south of the country. The result?

“For politicians in Westminster, the idea that Basra’s new British-trained police force might be, to some degree, in league with Britain’s enemies seems to have come as a surprise, prompting some to demand a hastened withdrawal. Yet most insiders have known it all along; the religious militias that now threaten British forces have been the hidden hand. They have largely controlled the city since its liberation from Saddam Hussein. The dilemma for the British was always whether to confront or tolerate these forces. One British officer summed it up: “It’s not that the extremists have infiltrated Basra’s police. They run it.”

“Since taking over Basra, the British army has been forced to play a dangerous game. Though the level of insurgency it has faced has been lower than that faced by the Americans in northern Iraq, the British forces’ potential armed opponents have acquired critical jobs all around them, in the civil administration and the police.”

Peace is at hand.

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A real opposition

The following advertisement by Israeli peace group Gush Shalom appeared in Haaretz on September 30:
“Few of us will mourn the defeat of Binyamin Netanyahu.

“But Ariel Sharon is not a man of peace, either. With the enthusiastic support of the Labor Party ministers, he exploits every opportunity to escalate the attack on the Palestinians.

“He does not want a cease-fire, and even less negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, in order to reach an agreed solution. His utterances about “security” are but a cover for his plan to annex large parts of the West Bank and to “fix the border unilaterally”. Every attack on Israeli citizens helps him in promoting these aims.

“The time has come for those who want peace and an end to the occupation to organize an independent and vigorous opposition, both in the street and in the Knesset.”


The truth obscured

Reuters writes:

“By limiting the ability of the media to fully and independently cover the events in Iraq, the U.S. forces are unduly preventing U.S. citizens from receiving information…and undermining the very freedoms the U.S. says it is seeking to foster every day that it commits U.S. lives and U.S. dollars.”

This is yet another report that proves we are not receiving the full picture of Iraq’s chaos. Western journalists rarely venture past their heavily fortified Baghdad bunkers, instead relying on Iraqi reporters to risk life and limb to gather information.

“‘Hotel journalism’ is the only phrase for it. More and more Western reporters in Baghdad are reporting from their hotels rather than the streets of Iraq’s towns and cities. Some are accompanied everywhere by hired, heavily armed Western mercenaries. A few live in local offices from which their editors refuse them permission to leave. Most use Iraqi stringers, part-time correspondents who risk their lives to conduct interviews for American or British journalists, and none can contemplate a journey outside the capital without days of preparation unless they “embed” themselves with American or British forces.

“Rarely, if ever, has a war been covered by reporters in so distant and restricted a way. The New York Times correspondents live in Baghdad behind a massive stockade with four watchtowers, protected by locally hired, rifle-toting security men, complete with NYT T-shirts. America’s NBC television chain are holed up in a hotel with an iron grille over their door, forbidden by their security advisers to visit the swimming pool or the restaurant “let alone the rest of Baghdad” lest they be attacked. Several Western journalists do not leave their rooms while on station in Baghdad.”

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Militarisation of Israel

(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

From Yahoo News:

“Israeli bride Reut Unger poses for a wedding photographer next to an Israeli army mobile artillery piece at a staging area near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, just outside the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday Sept. 28, 2005. “

Get out the measuring stick

“It would be interesting to do a word count for mentions of the word “hero” in American public life, as compared with Britain, France or Germany. A hundred years ago, conservative nationalist Germans used to characterise the “true” Germans as heroes and the Jews as wheeler-dealers: Helden against Handler. Today, we have a different stereotype: true Americans as Helden and limp-wristed Europeans as Handler. Yet in practice, of course, you had the same mix of true bravery and, as one journalist on the spot noted, “real raw panic” in the response to Rita and Katrina as you would in most societies.”

Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian, September 29

An Australian suggestion: a word count for mention of the words “un-Australian” and “anti-American” and an examination of their disproportionate use.


Spreading the word

I appeared on LA radio this afternoon to discuss the Israel/Palestine conflict and the Zionist lobby. “Middle East in Focus” is a weekly show on KPFK. The show started in 1980 during the Iranian hostage crisis and is currently hosted by Don Bustany. KPFK is owned by the Pacifica Foundation. They are listener sponsored and of the 140 programmers, 130 are unpaid volunteers.

The first guest on the program was a correspondent in Iran. He discussed the nuclear stand-off between America and the Islamic state.

Next up was Amy Wilentz, a contributing editor of The Nation magazine, author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier and a novel, Martyr’s Crossing. Her review of Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case For Israel” appeared in the Los Angeles Times last week:

“Dershowitz is not the only supporter of Israel and of peace who argues in this way. Many Jews in America never really examine how Palestinians might feel about certain Israeli policies, always assuming that Israel tries to be humane (even when it drops a bomb on an apartment complex to eliminate one terrorist and also kills 10 children; even though more than 500 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers since the start of the second intifada). He always assumes that Israel will be the one to set the parameters of what’s an acceptable peace. Sadly, the vicious and self-defeating suicide-bombing strategy of the masterminds of the second intifada has not changed such condescending and intemperate talk, to put it mildly.”

Wilentz suggested that Dershowitz was not unlike her young boys: petulant, always claiming to be right and incapable of seeing fault with the Jewish state.

My segment consisted of a general overview of my forthcoming book on the Middle East conflict, the power of the Zionist lobby in Australia and some possible reasons why honest debate about the Israel/Palestine conflict is next to impossible without resulting in raised tempers.

A number of listeners wanted to engage in the subject. Max from LA called in and asked why the Palestinians “always want to destroy us” and if I was proud to be a Jew with my views. I said that Jews historically always questioned official dogma and they should speak out if they see injustice. Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is one such example.

It was a fascinating 30-minute session and proved that rational discussion is possible on this subject if, unlike Max, contributors don’t start claiming God-given rights to the land.

On a related issue, since the recent publication of my article on Counterpunch, I’ve received nearly one hundred emails from around the world, orders for the (as yet) unfinished book, requests from libraries across the globe and words of support. Thank you all. The strongest message I received is the level of frustration amongst people who want to talk about America’s relationship with Israel, the power of the Zionist lobby or the disgraceful role of Arab countries towards the Palestinians.

Let honest debate begin.


Censoring the genes

From the UK Observer, November 2001:

“A keynote research paper showing that Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians are genetically almost identical has been pulled from a leading journal.

“The paper, ‘The Origin of Palestinians and their Genetic Relatedness with other Mediterranean Populations’, involved studying genetic variations in immune system genes among people in the Middle East.

“In common with earlier studies, the team found no data to support the idea that Jewish people were genetically distinct from other people in the region. In doing so, the team’s research challenges claims that Jews are a special, chosen people and that Judaism can only be inherited.

“Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East share a very similar gene pool and must be considered closely related and not genetically separate, the authors state. Rivalry between the two races is therefore based ‘in cultural and religious, but not in genetic differences’, they conclude.”

These conclusions are just as controversial in 2005.


Giving respect

It seems some British Muslims are upset that Holocaust Memorial Day solely represents the victims of the Jewish Holocaust and ignores victims of other genocides.

Dr Daud Abdullah, Assistant Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, spoke to ABC Radio’s Religion Report:

“…Other peoples have suffered grave injustices. Our argument is let us recall and commemorate those victims also, because inasmuch as a Jew may feel the hurt and pain of the Holocaust, so too an African descendant will feel the pain of slavery. Three-hundred years of slavery in America has no comparison in modern history.”

One of the most sensitive allegations relates to commemorating the Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression since 1948. Daud Abdullah wants Israel’s “genocidal” policies to be given equal footing in British society.

The Holocaust was a unique event in history and resulted in the deaths of around six million Jews and countless others. It deserves to be remembered. And there is simply no comparison to be made between the Nazi onslaught against Jews and Israeli behaviour towards Palestinians. We need to be careful in making some comparisons. I am a strong advocate of a Palestinian state and Palestinian human rights, but there has never been a systematic program of extermination akin to the Nazis. Anybody who says otherwise is purely trying to score political points.

None of this negates the fact that Israeli governments over successive generations have caused untold hardship, oppression and violence against the Palestinian people and at times have attempted ethnic cleansing in one form or another.

Daud Abdullah has a point when he says:

“…What is happening here is that many people use the idea of criticism of Israel to equate it with anti-Semitism, and to silence critics of Israel’s policies, policies which are being condemned internationally by the various human rights bodies, including the United Nations and including Israeli human rights bodies.”

No argument there. One can almost predict the vitriol against those who challenge Israeli myths with increased Israeli aggression in the occupied territories.

Let’s be proportionate and rational. Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is ludicrous and historically inaccurate. Fighting for Palestinian rights is an important challenge that will continue until a secure homeland is established. The fact that Westerners see their own victims more deserving of commemoration – usually whites of European background – is an indictment of our society.

Perhaps a memorial day to remember all victims of state sponsored terror is in order.


Rewriting history

Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating tackles the proposed changes to the country’s media laws:

“The Government’s apparent decision to close down any option for new free-to-air television outlets or multiple channels while removing the existing cross-media laws and foreign ownership restrictions is a recipe for massive media concentration and further abuses of power by the existing network owners [Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch].”

True enough, though Keating needs to be take some responsibility for the media moguls unprecedented power, due to his decisions while in power.

It was back in 2003 that the Sydney Morning Herald refused to run a Keating article on the same topic. In that same year, Eric Beecher – current owner of online magazine Crikey – offered these immortal lines:

“Even if Rupert Murdoch emerged with a TV network (possible), or Kerry Packer acquired Fairfax (unlikely), does anyone really believe either of those enlarged groups would harness their television stations alongside their newspapers as serious political propaganda tools?”

Beecher seems to have changed his tune since but let’s not forget that he took a long while to reach the conclusion that proposed changes to media laws will benefit a select few.

If anybody talks about the proposed laws offering greater “diversity”, look them in the eye and tell them a few facts about how power works in Australia.

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Jew-sponsored stock car booed off track

Thanks to Onion Sports.


All hands are dirty

American dissenter Scott Ritter publishes his latest book, Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of America’s Intelligence Conspiracy:

“The CIA coup plan went like this: if Unscom inspections could somehow be used to trigger a crisis, that would create a pretext for a US military attack against the Special Republican Guard, then Saddam’s personal security force could be decapitated. This would clear the way for the plotters, led by Mohammad Abdullah al-Shawani, a former commander of Iraqi Special Forces who had defected to Amman in Jordan and been recruited by the CIA, to make their move.”

The untold story (which remains hidden in the Australian media) is how our very own Richard Butler played a crucial role in compromising the ability of UNSCOM to carry out its UN mandated task and turned it into an intelligence gathering and policy instrument of the US administration. Have you ever heard a single Australian reporter ask Butler about Operation Rockingham?

(Thanks to reader Michael for this tip.)