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 war guarantee

The Bush administration’s announcement to send more troops into Iraq is a disturbing sign that the war is about to escalate even further. Capital Hill is highly sceptical, the Iraqi government doesn’t even want the troop increase, US soldiers in Iraq are reportedly scared about the ramifications and history is being ignored, again. The US, ever keen to find a new enemy to target, has chosen Shia nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Memo to Bush: removing al-Sadr will in fact inflame the situation, not pacify it, but the more perceptive commentators have noted that this is Bush’s plan. A wider Middle East war has never been more likely.

Liberal Jew and Time writer Tony Karon explains:

Bush suggested that the Iraqi people had voted for united country at the polls, and seen their dreams dashed by the maneuvering of Iran and Syria and others. That’s a crock. Iran enthusiastically supported those elections, and why wouldn’t they? The Shiite majority voted overwhelmingly in favor of parties far closer to Tehran than they are to Washington. Moreover, while Bush implies that sectarianism was somehow a deviation from what the electorate had chosen, in fact the electorate had voted almost entirely on sectarian and ethnic lines. The sectarian principle is at the heart of the democratically elected government; it’s not some imposition by al-Qaeda or Iran.

His conclusions are frightening:

So, essentially we’re now being asked to believe that the Iraqi government, dominated by Iran-friendly Shiite religious parties, is going to act in concert with Bush’s plan — and even Bush admitted that their support is the critical factor — giving U.S. forces the green light to take control of Sadr City from the Sadrists and so on, even as Washington moves its assets into position for a military strike on Iran. It may be, of course, that Washington is posturing in order to sweat Tehran into believing that a military strike is coming in order to intimidate the Islamic Republic into backing down, but frankly I wouldn’t bet on the collective strategic wisdom of Cheney-Rice and Khamenei-Larijani-Ahmedinajad combining to avoid a confrontation. And if the U.S. is raising the stakes, you can reliably expect Iran to do the same, probably starting in Iraq.

Even within the narrow Iraqi context, no matter what Maliki has told Bush, I wouldn’t bet on him coming through for the U.S. when the battle for Sadr City starts in earnest, and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, appalled by the violence, begins demanding that the U.S. go home.

Equally important, though, the new Bush moves give Iran no incentive to cooperate, and plenty of incentive to tie the U.S. up in an increasingly messy situation in Iraq. And my suspicion is that Tehran has hardly begun to exercise its ability to cause chaos in Iraq.

Again, the Bush Administration has failed to grasp the most basic lesson of his failures in Iraq and elsewhere — that military force has its limits, and that power is a more complex thing. Instead of recognizing what the likes of Baker and Scowcroft have emphasized all along — that the basic crisis in the region is political — Bush is going the Cheney lock-and-load route. Perhaps that’s why Bush warned Americans to expect another year of bloodletting. And stupendously reckless adventurism though it may be, I wouldn’t bet against him launching air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. And then he’ll have to learn the same lesson all over again, because the region will be no safer or any more stable. On the contrary, I’d say it’s a safe bet that by the time he leaves the White House, the U.S. position everywhere from Lebanon, Egypt and the Palestinian territories to Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, will be considerably worse than it is now.

Karon doesn’t address the role of Saudi Arabia, however. As noted by Greg Palast, Riyadh desperately wants the US occupation to continue. Why? Over to Palast:

According to Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi who signals to the US government the commands and diktats of the House of Saud, the Saudis are concerned that a US pull-out will leave their Sunni brothers in Iraq to be slaughtered by Shia militias. More important, the Saudis will not tolerate a Shia-majority government in Iraq controlled by the Shia mullahs of Iran. A Shia combine would threaten Saudi Arabia’s hegemony in the OPEC oil cartel.

In other words, it’s about the oil.

So what’s the solution? What’s my plan? How do we get out of Iraq? Answer: the same way we got out of ‘Nam. In ships.

But can we just watch from the ship rail as Shia slaughter Sunnis in Baghdad, Sunnis murder Shia in Anbar, Kurds “cleanse” Kirkuk of Turkmen and so on in a sickening daisy-chain of ethnic atrocities?

Australia’s role in this mess is negligible, though telling. John Howard will support whatever actions are taken by Bush – no matter the consequences – and has effectively outsourced our foreign policy to the White House. Howard may duck and weave about his government’s role, but history has already chosen its verdict.

UPDATE: The unedited transcript of a recent conversation between John Howard and George Bush.

7 comments ↪
  • melanie

    The notion that the Iraqi government is sovereign is also a piece of nonsense. Diplomats accredited to that government can have their offices smashed up by US troops, an official delegation visiting on the invitation of the Prime Minister can be arrested and thrown out by US troops.

    I agree. I think this is going to lead to a wider war.

  • Addamo

    The 21 thousand troops (who knows whee the will come from seeing as only 9000 are available) are being sent for 3 reasons. To save Bush's reputation, escalate the war to include Syria and Iran and to ensure that the privatised 30 year oil contracts (giving huge profit sharing agreementst o oil giants) get singed by the Iraqi government.

  • Another point of interest here is that Iran has decided to sell its oil in Euro's, not $USD.

    This means that china has less use for $USD, which is a massive threat to the US economy.

    Either way military action against Iran would be catastrophic for the entire world. Iran can cut off 40% of world oil supply in 30 minutes, all they need to do is scuttle a few ships in the strait of hormuz. All of a sudden the US economy would collapse, with knock on effects globally.

    Attacking Iran would be suicide, but that does not mean it will not happen. Bush is a strong supporter of the rapture after all….

  • E. Mariyani

    John Howard …has effectively outsourced our foreign policy to the White House.

    This implies foreign policy used to be done 'in-house' – but when was that ever the case for anything beyond our island-nation neighbours.

  • viva peace

    Cons

    Bull. Iranian oil can still be purchased in US$.

    The HUGE mistake Bush has made is in not committing an extra 200,000 troops. Those fetid Sunnis could be vaporized within weeks!

  • Addamo

    Ah Viva,

    Where would you be without your belief that nukes are the answer?

    Do you know nothing, or has your ability to comprehend any information been completely stifled by your between your homo-phobia…muslim-phobia…. liberal-phobia …terror-phobia…pagan-phobia …

    And extra 20,000 troops now or later would have made no difference whatsoever, other than increasing the body count on all sides. The US have had 20,000 more troops in Iraq before (over 150,000 on at one time) and that failed. This plan is the same one that failed on 5 previous occasions, just re-branded so as to exclude the "escalation" word.

    The HUGE mistake Bush has made was gong into Iraq, just like Israel's HUGE mistake of invading Lebanon. Both armies have suffered from starting wars with weak enemies – fighting the weak makes you weak.

  • E. Mariyani

    viva peace said

    The HUGE mistake Bush has made is in not committing an extra 200,000 troops.

    200,000 extra troops? From where? The magic troop-tree in the backyard?

    If we want to think in terms of strategy and troop numbers, then blame has to be sheeted home to good ol' Rummy's recontruction of the military and his new super-'efficient' method of winning wars (basically a high capital-to-labour ratio method) – something he had been pushing for yonks in neocon-hybernation think-tanks.

    In that case, the real mistake was the existence of Rummy and everyone who supported him – i.e. the core of the Bush Administration itself.