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.

The US/Australia alliance

The Washington Post is currently experimenting with a new kind of online conversation called Post Global (discussed last week here.) It aims to bring various writers and thinkers from around the world to discuss the most discussed and ignored issues of the day. I will be an irregular contributor and my first, major piece is now published:

Debunking the US/Australia alliance

Sydney, Australia – Australia has traditionally been an English outpost, a nation with strong cultural and political similarities to the Mother Country. Although these ties remain deep – as evidenced during British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s visit to Australia – every Australian government since World War II has positioned the country closer to the world’s sole superpower, the United States. But Australian citizens are now resisting.

President George W. Bush invited Australian Prime Minister John Howard to the White House in May. The affair was infused with hyperbole. Howard praised Bush’s optimism about the future. “It is a friendship rooted not only in history”, he said, “but it’s a friendship and partnership rooted very firmly in common values.” Iraq’s civil war was conveniently ignored as was the Coalition’s role in motivating the insurgency.

He went on: “I value very much the personal friendship I have with you, Mr. President. You’re a staunch friend, you’re a faithful ally, you’re a strong leader, you have articulated the interests of your country and of the free world at a time of unique and different challenge.”

At a time when the Bush administration desperately seeks more allies in its “war on terror”, Australia has remained steadfast in its support. This week, Australia announced it would send more troops to Iraq. After visiting Iraq and meeting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson stated, “He said to me, ‘You were there with us from the beginning’; I said, ‘We’ll be there with you til the end’.” No journalist asked Nelson what that end will be.

This position is not one supported by the majority of Australians. According to a poll published in March, 55% of Australians were opposed to Australia’s involvement in Iraq and many remained sceptical about the deployment in Afghanistan.

These results display the growing divide between the Australian political and media elite and the general public. The Bush administration is treated with contempt by large portions of the population.

A study released last year by a Sydney-based think-tank confirmed this view. More than two-thirds polled believed that Australia paid too attention to Washington’s foreign policy and should develop a more independent outlook. Furthermore, more than two-thirds held positive feelings towards China – ahead of the United Nations, France and the U.S.

The mainstream media rarely reflect this schism between perception and reality over the U.S./Australia alliance. Soon after the 2004 Federal Election, former Opposition Leader Mark Latham announced that he believed Australia should follow New Zealand’s lead and distance itself from Washington’s military path. Australia was becoming a U.S. colony, Latham said, and a greater terrorist target. The establishment roundly condemned his position.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned Australian newspaper’s foreign editor, Greg Sheridan, says that, “the military alliance between Australia and the U.S. is a force for good in the world. The history of the 20th century showed that allies of the U.S. did best”. Many citizens around the world, including in Australia, would strongly disagree.

Consequences? Questions? Discuss below.

Antony Loewenstein is an Australian-based journalist, author and blogger who writes on international relations and the Middle East and publishes in numerous media outlets in Australia and overseas. His website can be found here.

14 comments ↪
  • Addamo_01

    As much of a suck up and a US psycophant as Howard is, it's hard to imagine that Australia has much say in the matter. Austreali is indeed vulnerable, but then again, New Zealand has shown how a safe disatance from the US can be maintained withouth harming national security.

  • Umm, how much uranium does New Zealand have? The fact that we have 26% of the world's reserve makes us much more important to the US than NZ could ever be, even as a staging post for the conquest of Antarctica.

    Of course we haven't had a say in it. Our country is way too strategically important to be left untended, and everything in the world, especially to this regime, is evaluated and acted upon according to its signifigance to the US national interest.

    Anthony, congratulations on the Washington Post berth. I'm glad there are more alternative viewpoints being presented to the US than that of Alexander Downer

  • Bedhouin

    Congrats on being published Antony.

    Not sure I agree that Australia's perceived regional vulnerability is the same as it's actual vulnerability. The only feasible (and often touted) threat Australia faces is from Indonesia to the North. The rest of Australia isn't at any potential risk unless NZ or Vanuatu launch an attack…

  • I wonder if Mark Latham will have any insider revelations on the US-Australian alliance in his forthcoming book, entitled A Conga Line of Suckholes? (Nicely put!). I saw him at a bbq a while back and had a few questions that I would've liked to ask him, but he did have a very strong Don't approach me vibe. Probably not surprising, given the shit he was copping at the time. Anyway, this book will probably be ignored and only serve to make Latham more unpopular, if that is possible. Which will be a pity if he has some worthwhile stuff to say. I hope he is now in a suitably isolated position to say something interesting about his experience of the alliance. Alliance is probably too nice a word, who was it that said that "An empire does not have allies—it has only vassals"? Or was that suckholes?
    Gerard Henderson and Co are probably busy preparing their predictable responses already, no need to really see the book first, Latham's embittered former Labor party colleagues working on their one liners denouncing Latham for the 6pm news.

  • Ironic, n'est-ce pas?

    The same commentors who complain that Antony blocks their comments here seem to have complained about my comments at the Washington Post, and I now appear to have been blocked from further comments. These are the same people who suggested I "came from the same kennel" as Loewenstein's dog and called me an "it".

    For what it's worth, the comment I was going to post is this:

    Ted,

    Re-read my first comment about "a coalition of multinational corporate executives, big-city bankers, and hungry power brokers" (Reagan's words, not mine). Then re-read my last comment about the Bush-GOP-Zionist "bandwagon". Then go sit in a quiet space for a few hours and see if you can get your head around it all.

    Alternatively, spin around four times, touch your toes, clap your hands together and shout: "I believe in fairies!"

    If you want a name, flick open a phone book. I initially started using a pseudonym on the Net because of abusive ad-hominem attacks just like this, including personalized threats against myself and my family, from attack dogs just like you mob.

    There seems to be a bit of a civil war raging within the corridors of the WaPo. All their efforts at getting to the truth seem to end up half-baked.

  • Further to my apparent (I have received no message informing me why my comments no longer appear) banning above, if you think this is not fair, please contact the WaPo ombudsman, Deborah Howell at ombudsman@washpost.com

  • OK scrap those complaints for now – my comments have appeared (after a 2 hour delay and after I had posted complaints here and on my blog).

  • Still getting delay problems at WaPo, so I will post this here and see if it shows up there…

    The lady leading the attacks on Antony at WaPo's site is "Dr Sue Williams", who says of herself:

    I read My Israel Question before it was publically released (all publishing houses release media copies prior to the oficial publishing date)… I have been extensively involved in our institutes of higher learning, for better or worse, for over 20 years,…

    Based on that, I did a little Googling. Is this the Sue Williams who gets her articles published in RUPERT MURDOCH's FLAGSHIP PAPER? Is this the Sue Williams whose own journalism has been subject to <A>criticism (on political issues, no less)? Is this the UK-born Sue Williams who writes fantasy crime books and <a>lectures on the subject at Flinders University?

    Or is this the Sue Williams (from murdoch.edu.au) who is an expert on Sacoglossan Sea Slugs?

  • Hey, you would be a little paranoid too if your government was being overtaken by secretive Fascists who tell lies as excuses to invade other countries, right?

  • Ian

    Not sure I agree that Australia’s perceived regional vulnerability is the same as it’s actual vulnerability. The only feasible (and often touted) threat Australia faces is from Indonesia to the North.

    Indonesia has the potential to annoy, but ATM it doesn't have the capacity to do more than send small raiding parties and even these would need an element of surprise.

    The TNI lack both the planes to protect any force they did land from the air, and their navy doesn't have the vessels needed to either move large troop concentrations to our mainland or to sustain them.

    Our aerial superiority may diminish once the F-111s are taken out of service – the likely replacement is inferior in both effective range and load capacity – but the odds will still be very much in our favour.

    While the Chinese and Russians could nuke us into oblivion, realistically, the only country that can successfully invading us is the U.S.

  • Ian

    Not enough blue eyed blonde sheilas giving birth.

    Well, I’m getting a bit long in the tooth, but I’m prepared to do my bit! 🙂

  • orang

    "….successfully invading us is the U.S.:" And why would they? We're already everything they ever dreamed of-except that pesky Bob Brown.
    No, I say the real danger to us is those frequently pregnant muslim women. Not enough blue eyed blonde sheilas giving birth. Just wait – in 5 years we'll have Shariah Law on the Gold Coast. No pubs or gambling, babes on the beach wearing burqas…..

  • For anyone concerned about the influence of the pro-Israel lobby in Australian government, I recommend you ask Flinders University whether Dr Sue Collin's rubbishing of Antony Lowenstein at WaPo is part of her paid work.

  • Pingback: Australia and Timor, a tortured relationship » | Antony Loewenstein()