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.

Ghost Plane

My following book review of Stephen Grey’s Ghost Plane appears in today’s Age newspaper:

If the pain is too much, the CIA can ship you somewhere for treatment

Torture is as American as apple pie. The Bush Administration and CIA may have implemented a worldwide system of “extraordinary renditions” (the removal of prisoners to foreign jails to face physical and mental abuse), but the US government has long engaged in illegal activities beyond the bounds of international law.

When leading conservative American commentators such as Andrew Sullivan express shock at the ways in which torture has become integral to the “war on terror”, one can’t help but wonder what he thought happened before September 11.

Take the case of Dan Mitrione, a CIA man who taught Brazilian police how to administer electric shocks to prisoners in the 1960s. He was just one of many US advisers sent to Latin America during the Cold War to train foreign police agents in the ways of torture, violent interrogation and kidnapping. It was a brutal business that received little mainstream coverage. Today, the CIA is under far greater scrutiny.

Ghost Plane is a welcome addition to our knowledge of America‘s global prison network and exposes the democratic governments that assist in providing air space and diplomatic cover.

The European Parliament recently released a report that accused Britain, Germany, Italy and other EU nations of turning a blind eye to CIA flights that carried so-called terrorists across Europe. The US-led “dirty war” was being waged with complete European complicity.

Stephen Grey paints a startling picture of the conditions under which terror suspects are placed after being abducted by the United States in various world cities. He describes the “Palestine Branch” in downtown Damascus: “As you’re pushed through the door, you will see that, if you are of normal height and width, you can barely fit inside. The cell is three feet wide, six feet long and seven feet high. Welcome to the ‘The Grave’ . . . The Grave received its name because the cells are little larger than coffins.” In late 2002, at least seven prisoners claim to have arrived in this location thanks to “extraordinary rendition”.

One prisoner was Maher Arar, a Canadian wireless technician who was returning home after a family holiday in Tunisia. During a brief stopover in New York, he was detained by immigration officials and suspected of having links to al-Qaeda. He was spirited out of the country by US officials to Syria, in a covert agreement between the two countries. Syria soon realised that he had no terrorist links, but not before he suffered unimaginable torture for nearly a year.

The US has refused to even acknowledge its deliberate policy of sending a suspect to a country it knows practises torture. In late January, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology to Arar and offered multimillion-dollar compensation. It was a rare moment of decency in a war that is light-years away from the “liberty agenda” espoused by George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard.

Grey painstakingly depicts CIA Gulfstream flights through log records and the US-friendly dictatorships that see an unusually high amount of visits. Uzbekistan is a key player.

Former British ambassador to the country Craig Murray became an outspoken critic of the practice. In one cable to then British foreign secretary Jack Straw in 2004, Murray wrote: “We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop.” He rightly explained that “tortured dupes” are notoriously unreliable.

Grey proves beyond doubt that the Abu Ghraib abuses were merely the tip of the iceberg of a co-ordinated and secretive program that stretches across the world. There is now vast evidence to prove that prisoners at US bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba constantly suffer under methods of coercion that would be illegal under US law.

Outsourcing torture to friendly allies is guaranteed to generate repercussions on an unprecedented scale, and Grey’s book is an invaluable tool in revealing the darkest secrets of the world’s only superpower.

Antony Loewenstein is the author of My Israel Question, published by Melbourne University Publishing.

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