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 Strange Fruit of Torture

Former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury in the Reagan administration, Paul Craig Roberts, explains why when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to the outlandish assortment of plots and crimes under torture, his captivity played right into his hands and undermined their own credibility.

The first confession released by the Bush regime’s Military Tribunals–that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed–has discredited the entire process. Writing in Jurist, Northwestern University law professor Anthony D’Amato likens Mohammed’s confession to those that emerged in Stalin’s show trials of Bolshevik leaders in the 1930s.

That was my own immediate thought. I remember speaking years ago with Soviet dissident Valdimir Bukovsky about the behavior of Soviet dissidents under torture. He replied that people pressed for names under torture would try to remember the names of war dead and people who had passed away. Those who retained enough of their wits under torture would confess to an unbelievable array of crimes in an effort to alert the public to the falsity of the entire process.

That is what Mohammed did. We know he was tortured, because his response to the obligatory question about his treatment during his years of detention is redacted. We also know that he was tortured, because otherwise there is no point for the US Justice (sic) Dept. memos giving the green light to torture or for the Military Commissions Act, which permits torture and death sentence based on confession extracted by torture.

Mohammed’s confession of crimes and plots is so vast that Katherine Shrader of the Associated Press reports that the Americans who extracted Mohammed’s confession do not believe it either. It is exaggerated, say Mohammed’s tormentors, and must be taken with a grain of salt.

In other words, the US torture crew, reveling in their success, played into Mohammed’s hands. Pride goes before a fall, as the saying goes.

Mohammed’s confession admits to 31 planned and actual attacks all over the world, including blowing up the Panama Canal and assassinating presidents Carter and Clinton and the Pope. Having taken responsibility for the whole ball of wax along with everything else that he could imagine, he was the entire show. No other terrorists needed.

Reading responses of BBC listeners to Mohammed’s confession reveals that the rest of the world is either laughing at the US government for being so stupid as to think that anyone anywhere would believe the confession or damning the Bush regime for being like the Gestapo and KGB.

The huge irony is that even if Mohammed was indeed a major player in the 9/11 attacks, it’s likely we’ll never know because anything that he confesses to could well be another effort to muddy the waters. If ever there was a clear argument for why torture does not work, this must surely be it.

18 comments ↪
  • gottcha

    Torture?

    1) They put women's panties on his head

    2) They played Christina Aguilera music in his cell (especially painful because she married a Jew)

    3) They said said nasty things about Osama bin Laden

    4) A female interrogator came in with red ink, which she said was menstrual fluid

    5) They didn't let him get a full night's sleep.

    All these acts are unpleasant and humiliating but since when are they torture? The UN Convention defines torture as 'severe pain and suffering." None of these acts fit that description.

    This man was the 20th hijacker in the 9/11 tragedy. He is a self-confessed terrorist and you are making excuses for him Andre. Which side are you on?

  • Gottcha, with all due respect your comment is misconceived.

    Firstly, you don't know what exactly they did to him. Given the much-publicised and proven instances of torture and degradation practiced by US military on their prisoners in Iraq, it is not too much to suppose that considerably more serious violations occurred or were threatened.

    Secondly, what you lightly describe as not "let[ting] him get a full night's sleep" is in fact sleep deprivation – a very effective method of extracting confessions (human beings can't function without sleep any more than they can function without food or water). A dismissive description of the practice does not make it any less serious.

    However, perhaps the most objectionable statement is "This man was the 20th hijacker in the 9/11 tragedy. He is a self-confessed terrorist and you are making excuses for him Andre. Which side are you on?".

    The prohibition on torture is absolute. It is not only enshrined in treaties, it has become a customary rule of international law, from which no derogation is permitted (even if you really, really don't like the guy tortured). If the so-called war on terror is about protecting "our way of life" and "democracy" then by carrying out acts of torture we lose that war. We engage in precisely the sort of behaviour we condemn and sacrifice the very values that we claim to be fighting for. Carrying out acts of torture does not only humiliate, degrade or destroy the victim, it utterly degrades the society that condones it.

    In condemning torture, for whatever purpose, one does not put oneself on the side of the terrorists or "makes excuses" for their actions, but rather recognises that we should not allow for the ultimate degradation of our own society by stooping to the level of those we condemn.

  • Silence Dogood

    Gottcha, several of the methods you site are not the ones anti-torture people, such as myself are arguing against. However, the "loud music" one which is so often dismissed is actually a very heinous torture method.

    Having nothing to do with the muscian's religion or political affiliation when music goes over 120 then 130 decibels it starts to cause nose bleeds and ear bleeds and starts to ruin the homostasis of internal organs burst ear drums and wreak all sorts of mayhem on the body similar to if you were actually being beaten. The pain is just as,if not more excrutiating than many of the more 'old fashion' forms of torture. Sound can be felt at these levels (if you have ever been to a nascar or rock concert you would know what i am talking about) – a key difference is that after 24 hours or more of this treatment you have also done irreprable damage to the person involved, often their ears are covered in attempt not to blow our their ear drums. Even higher levels of noise have a vibration capacity that can start to tear weaker human tissue apart.

    Lastly, this and other torture methods that are used are not even done for the sake of interrogation. They are done for hours with no intent of then interrogating the person, i.e. they are done solely for punitive purposes not related to intelligence gathering and have nothing to do with the elusive middle school that always happens to be about to get blown up in every 'tortured' hypothetical used to justify these indefensible practices.

    Torture will help us in one way in the war on terror. If President Bush was correct in saying that terrorists hate us for our freedoms then this program and others have gone a long way toward eroding and prohibiting those freedoms we stand for, and it that vein may help us be safer from terrorits who will have less 'reasons' to hate us.

  • Andre

    Gottcha,

    The thread seems to have gone completely over your head.

    You are stuck between denying that torture ever took place, while arguing that it was justified on the basis of the confessions that were extracted.

    What part of "the Americans who extracted Mohammed’s confession do not believe it either" do you not understand?

    Without even considering the morality of the argument, there is more than one paradox here. Aside from the fact that the "20th hijacker" moniker has already been assigned to Zacarias Moussaoui, you have failed to consider how the interrogation techniques you mentioned could be sufficiently coercive to extract any legitimate information.

    This is not about taking sides. Many innocent people have been tortured and aside from KSM, not a single legitimate confession or intelligence has been acquired. David Hicks ring a bell? What about Maher Arrar?

    By confessing to everything except the Kennedy assassination, KSM basically poisoned the well, and as Paul Craig Roberts has pointed out, the public has become highly cynical of any subsequent revelations.

    If these people are prepared to die for their cause, why then, would KSM spill his guts over a pair of knickers wrapped around his head? The US has had KSM's sons since 2003, yet it took this long to get a confession out of him? Then again, there is always the possibility that his interrogators took the advice of White House Counsel, John Yoo and crushed the testicles of his sons before him?

  • gottcha

    Unsilenced

    'We engage in precisely the sort of behaviour we condemn and sacrifice the very values that we claim to be fighting for. Carrying out acts of torture does not only humiliate, degrade or destroy the victim, it utterly degrades the society that condones it.'

    Have the Aussie, English or American armies BEHEADED anyone lately?

    You speak in idealisms, you are dreaming mate with this stuff. You defend the indefencable when you defend jihadi Islamist behaviour.

    If your assumption that WE do not know what happens in military prisons is correct (and I'm not agreeing with you) then why have you accepted without query Andre's claim that torture occurred?

    This high-lefty sermon rubbish is good when it suits your agenda Unsilenced, but where is your objectivity?

  • gottcha

    Andre

    'The thread seems to have gone completely over your head.'

    Why? Because I eloquently pointed out that the man you claimed was tortured was merely made feel uncomfortable? And your own criteria of torture does not fit the UN definition?

    Because your claims of torture are based on rumour, gossip and assumption?

    'David Hicks ring a bell? '

    Are you claiming to know more than David Hicks himself? Hicks has said more than once that he was not tortured. Do you have INSIDE info here? Spies?

    You publish innuendo and gossip Andre and then claim the higher moral ground.

    You live in fairyland.

  • LDU

    Whats the difference between dying via beheading and dying via bullets?

  • Andre

    Because I eloquently pointed out that the man you claimed was tortured was merely made feel uncomfortable?

    According to what sources? The same sources that insist the US does not torture? The same government that redefined torture to exclude anything short of abuse leading to organ failure and death?

    Because your claims of torture are based on rumour, gossip and assumption?

    Yeah right. Only a month or so ago, a US judge threw out a lawsuit again Rumsfeld, not because he didn't believe the plaintiffs had been tortured, but because it would open up a legal can of worms.

    In making his decision, the judge unacknowledged that the men had indeed been tortured.

    Now tell me, if the US government is so readily prepared to torture captive who they know are innocent, why would they spare someone like KSM?

    Hicks has said more than once that he was not tortured.

    Yeah right. The same guy they held captive for 5 years and then released (after ta please bargain that saves their arse) without presenting any evidence, not to mention gagging him for a year after his release.

    Now remind me, who lives in fairyland?

  • gottcha

    Andre

    By your own criteria you cannot prove that Hicks was tortured, as you have claimed.

    You are telling stories with no basis but your own prejudices. You are doing exactly what you claim I am doing. And yet, you believe you can, why?

    Why is alright for you to make baseless claims?

    I'll tell you why, because being a far left winger you believe you can make moral judgements about others. That's what you lefties do. You believe you have the higher moral ground. But the truth is being a peacenik in the face of evil is pathetic and misguided.

  • gottcha

    LDU

    'Whats the difference between dying via beheading and dying via bullets?'

    Perhaps you can ask Daniel Pearls wife.

    Perhaps you could think about the process and work it out yourself.

    Drawing a moral equivalence between the activity of our army and the terrorists of Al Qaida is more than perverted. It's sick.

  • Andre

    Gottcha,

    In a perfect display of right wing irrationality, you are once again, opening your mouth simply to change feet. It seems we have discovered the only person left on the plant who still refuses to accept that the US torures people.

    Who knows that Daniel Pearl's wife has to say? We most certainly do know what Nick Berg's father has to say – that the chaos in Iraq, along with what happened to his son, is the sole responsibility of the US. And speaking of sickness of perversity, who can you top the fact that Bush rejected at least 2 opportunities to take out Berg's executioner, Zarqawi, prior to he invasion so that he could have Colin Powell use his presence in Northern Iraq link Saddam to terrorism.

    Western armies are simply doing what is asked of them. The criminality lies entirely to those leaders who chose to to lie us into an unnecessary war of choice and then misuse the military to carry out it's own perverse and twisted agenda.

    There are more than 650,000 dead Iraqis thanks to the war. Try naming one achievement from Al Qaeda that tops that, and then come back to us with your shrill argument about moral equivalence. Sorry to break it you, but anyone who dies at the hands of Al Qaeda is just as dead as someone killed by occupation troops.

    You are telling stories with no basis but your own prejudices.

    Then by all means, please explain to us how a hardened terrorist like KSM confessed to all those crimes, if all that was needed to extract that confession was being forced to wear women's knicker on his head? And if the interrogators had hit pay dirt, as you seem to believe, why do they themselves not believe what he confessed to.

    Ever heard of Ramsey Yousef? That's KSM's nephew. When he was sentenced to 140 years in prison for the first WTC bombing, he accepted it as a badge of honour. Your position is absurd if you insist that such people can laugh at half a dozen consecutive life sentences but cower over sleep deprivation or menstrual blood being smeared on their faces.

  • LDU

    Maybe you can also ask Palestinians how it feels having a rocket shoved up the arse of a family member?

    Stones vs Sophisticated Military = David vs Goliath. Suck balls Gottcha.

  • gottcha

    LDU

    The hundreds of Kassam rockets fired into southern Israel in the last few months are not stones.

    Palestinians with suicide bomb belts strapped to their middles who sneak into civilian cafes in Israel are not stones.

    How about you stop the bullshit and the exaggeration and start telling it like it is?

    Funny how you change the goal posts to suit your agenda isn't it?

    It's the Israelis who are "having rockets shoved up their arses" LDU, not the Palestinians. Read the news. And go suck your own balls.

  • Gottcha,
    I wasn't going to respond, because one does not defeat an ignorant person by rational argument, however, if I could just point to your statement:

    If your assumption that WE do not know what happens in military prisons is correct (and I’m not agreeing with you) then why have you accepted without query Andre’s claim that torture occurred?

    My point is that we DO know what happens in military prisons and that you fail to acknowledge the fact. Remember the videos and photos shot by US military of them torturing Iraqi prisoners. Remember the forced group sex poses, dog leashes, sexual abuse, smearing with faeces? Remember the soldiers CONVICTED of abusing prisoners (that's called proof beyond reasonable doubt). I didn't just "accept without query" Andre's claim that torture occurred – I considered the facts and made the only available logical inference.

    Also, it is clear that you cannot distinguish between defending the principles our society is built upon and defending Islamic jihad behaviour. I will not attempt to enlighten you, it seems to be a lost cause.

  • gottcha

    Unsilenced

    It must thrill you to claim that anyone who doesn't agree with you is ignorant. Typical leftist rationalisation.

    You cite one example of bad behaviour in one Iraqi prison and what you failed to mention was that the American court charged and prosecuted those who committed these offences. The military personnel are now serving long prison terms.

    What does this tell you about the society you condemn?

    It tells you that it will uphold its democratic principles and that it will punish those who break the law.

    This is quite different to your assumption and claim that America endorses torture. You are being dishonest in your accusations. You cite half the story and claim I am ignorant because I see the facts you left out.

    So, call me a 'lost cause', tell me to "suck balls", but research the whole story Unsilenced, not just the bits that reinforce your biased, discriminative agenda.

  • Andre

    Gottcha,

    You've descended into a drooling mess of irrationality. Aside from Abu Graib, the Bush administration had stated that enemy combatants, ie. anyone that they deem an enemy, are not protected by the Geneva Conventions. They then redefined torture to include any abuse that does not lead to organ failure or death.

    You cite one example of bad behavior in one Iraqi prison, while ignoring that Rumsfeld uninstructed those responsible to "make it happen". And while American courts charged and prosecuted a handful of low ranking soldiers, a judge in a US court who accepted that the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Rumsfeld had been toured, concluded that he could not allow the lawsuit to proceed because it would set a legal precedent.

    Then of course, there was Bush signing statement included in the bill banning torture, which means that he can still approve torture and bypass the bill . Prior to that, Bush had threatened to veto any bill forbidding torture.

    It tells you that it will uphold its democratic principles and that it will punish those who break the law.

    Unless you're an enemy combatant, which can apply to anyone the US government decides, including US citizens.

    This is quite different to your assumption and claim that America endorses torture.

    Are you confusing America with the US government?

    The US doesn't even recognize Habeus Corpus anymore Gottcha and the new laws mean that any individual, American or otherwise, can be snatched and incarcerated for the rest of his/her life, without even being charged. So under the news laws, such actions will technically be legal, but they certainly do not include any notion of due process, or justice. I don't even know why you are bothering to argue the point. The fact that the US uses torture is no longer a secret.

    Time to wake up my friend.

  • Gottcha,
    Andre has helpfully covered most of my points, but one again you deliberately misstate my arguments. I do not condemn American society, I condemn those who denigrate it through conduct unacceptable in any civilised society. Prohibition on use of torture is a jus cogens (peremptory norm) of international law – ie it is ABSOLUTE, no state is permitted to depart from it, for any reason whatsoever. A government that condones it condemns its own society to repeat the darkest times of our history. If you want to call that left-wing idealism, be my guest. I take comfort in the fact that this category includes the greatest legal and political minds of our times (both of the left and not so left political persuasions)

    By the way, I would never tell you to "suck balls" – it would be a spurious attack that does not advance a rational argument – a bit like throwing around terms like "biased", "discriminatory", "fairy-land" or "left-wing", which does nothing to promote intelligent debate on the substance of the matter. Neither do suggestions that those who oppose torture support terrorism. If you oppose torture of a pick-pocket, does that mean that you support theft? If you oppose torture of someone accused of murder to extract confession, does that mean you support killing?

    Frankly, from your posts I have trouble figuring out whether your argument is that no torture occurred or that, if it occurred, it's ok because the guy tortured is a terrorist.

    If it is the former, then we have a disagreement on evidence of torture, and that's that. If it is the latter, than our disagreement is significantly more profound. If you support the use of torture then you have already become your enemy and I do not believe that rational discussion is possible.

  • LDU

    Yes Gottcha. Lets look at the facts. For every Israeli Jew that is killed, 11 Palestinian Arabs die. Jewish life is more worthy than Arab life? Fag.

    Ask any Australian Jew who supports Israel the following question: if Australia were to be at war with Israel, in which ranks will you fight? This clearly shows where the loyalty of the great majority of Australian Jewry lies. Just go fuck off to Israel.