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 full Zionist lobbying picture

Following the news that Israel Lobby authors are already facing troubles in promoting their work across the US, especially at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, I have now obtained the full letter sent on August 5 that outlines the full story surrounding the Zionist lobby’s outrageous pressure on the institution:

August 5, 2007

Salutation

We are writing to bring to your attention a troubling incident involving the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.  We do so reluctantly, as we have both enjoyed our prior associations with the Council and we have great respect for its aims and accomplishments.  Nonetheless, we felt this was an episode that should not pass without comment.

On September 4, 2007, our book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, one of the most highly respected publishers in the United States.  Through our publisher, the Council issued an invitation for both of us to speak at a session on September 27, 2007.  We were delighted to accept, as each of us had spoken at the Council on several occasions in the past and knew we would attract a diverse and well-informed audience that would engage us in a lively and productive discussion.

On July 19, while discussing the details of our visit with Sharon Houtkamp, who was handling the arrangements at the Council, we learned that the Council had already received a number of communications protesting our appearance.  We were not particularly surprised by this news, as we had seen a similar pattern of behavior after our original article on “The Israel Lobby” appeared in the London Review of Books in March 2006.  We were still looking forward to the event, however, especially because it gave us an opportunity to engage these issues in an open forum.

Then, on July 24, Council President Marshall Bouton phoned one of us (Mearsheimer) and informed him that he was cancelling the event. He said he felt “extremely uncomfortable making this call” and that his decision did not reflect his personal views on the subject of our book.  Instead, he explained that his decision was based on the need “to protect the institution.”  He said that he had a serious “political problem,” because there were individuals who would be angry if he gave us a venue to speak, and that this would have serious negative consequences for the Council.  “This one is so hot,” Marshall maintained, that he could not present it at a Council session unless someone from “the other side”—such as Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League—was on stage with us.  At the very least, he needed to present “contending viewpoints.”  But he said it was too late to try to change the format, as the fall schedule was being finalized and there would not be sufficient time to arrange an alternate date.  He showed little interest in doing anything with us in 2008 or beyond.

Several comments are in order regarding this situation.

First, since the publication of our original article on the Israel lobby, we have appeared either singly or together at a number of different venues, including Brown University, the Council on Foreign Relations, Columbia University, Cornell University, Emerson College, the Great Hall at Cooper Union, Georgetown University, the National Press Club, the Nieman Fellows Program at Harvard University, the University of Montana, the Jewish Community Center in Newton, Massachusetts, and Congregation Kam Isaiah Israel in Chicago.  In all but one of these venues we appeared on our own, i.e., without someone from the “other side.”  As one would expect, we often faced vigorous questions from members of the audience, which invariably included individuals who disagreed in fundamental ways with some of our arguments.  Nevertheless, the back-and-forth at each of these events was always civil, and quite a few participants said that they benefited from listening to us and to our interlocutors.

Second, the Council has recently welcomed speakers who do represent a “contending viewpoint,” and they have appeared on their own.  Consider the case of Michael Oren, an Israeli-American author, who appeared at the Council on February 8, 2007, to talk about “The Middle East and the United States: A Long and Complicated Relationship.”  Oren has a different view of U.S. Middle East policy than we do; indeed, he gave a keynote address at AIPAC’s annual policy conference this past spring that directly challenged our perspective.  We believe it was entirely appropriate for the Council to have invited him to speak, and without having a representative from an opposing group there to debate him. The Council has also welcomed a number of other speakers on this general topic in recent years, such as Dennis Ross, Max Boot and Rashid Khalidi, and none of their appearances included someone representing a “contending view.”

One might argue that our views are too controversial to be presented on their own.  However, they are seen as controversial only because some of the groups and individuals that we criticized in our original article have misrepresented what we said or leveled unjustified charges at us personally—such as the baseless claim that we (or our views) are anti-Semitic.  The purpose of these charges, of course, is to discourage respected organizations like the Council from giving us an audience, or to create conditions where they feel compelled to include “contending views” in order to preserve “balance” and to insulate themselves from external criticism.

In fact, our views are not extreme. Our book does not question Israel’s right to exist and does not portray pro-Israel groups in the United States as some sort of conspiracy to “control” U.S. foreign policy.  Rather, it describes these groups and individuals—both Jewish and gentile—as simply an effective special interest group whose activities are not substantially different from groups like the NRA, the farm lobby, the AARP, or other ethnic lobbies.  Its activities, in other words, are as American as apple pie, although we argue that its influence has helped produce policies that are not in the U.S. national interest.  We also suggest that these policies have been unintentionally harmful to Israel as well, and that a different course of action would be better for both countries.  It is not obvious to us why such views could not be included in the Council’s schedule.

Although we find it somewhat unseemly to refer to our own careers, it is perhaps worth noting that we are both well-established figures with solid mainstream credentials.  We are fortunate to occupy chaired professorships at distinguished universities, and to have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  We have both held important leadership positions at Chicago or Harvard, each of us serves on the editorial boards of several leading foreign policy journals (such as Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy), and we have both done consulting work for U.S. government agencies.  Given our backgrounds, the idea that it would be inappropriate for us to appear on our own at a Council session seems far-fetched.

Finally, and most importantly, we believe that the decision to cancel our appearance is antithetical to the principle of open discussion that underpins American democracy, and that is so essential for maximizing the prospects that our country pursues a wise foreign policy.  In essence, we believe this is a case in which a handful of people who disagree with our views have used their influence to intimidate Marshall into rescinding the Council’s invitation to us, so as to insure that interested members will not hear what we have to say about Israeli policy, the U.S. relationship with Israel, and the lobby itself. This is not the way we are supposed to address important issues of public policy in the United States, and it is surely not the way the Council normally conducts its business. This is undoubtedly why Marshall, who is a very smart and decent man, felt so uncomfortable calling us to say that the event had been cancelled.  He knew this decision was contrary to everything that the Council is supposed to represent.

The Chicago Council is obviously under no obligation to grant us a venue, and we are not writing in an attempt to reverse this decision.  But given the importance of the issues that are raised in our book, we are genuinely disappointed that we will not have the benefit of open exchange with the Council’s members, including those who might want to challenge our arguments or conclusions. The United States and its allies—including Israel—face many challenging problems in the Middle East, and our country will not be able to address them intelligently if we cannot have an open and civilized discussion about U.S. interests in the region, and the various factors that shape American policy there.  Regrettably, the decision to cancel our appearance has made that much-needed conversation more difficult.

Sincerely,

John J. Mearsheimer
R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science
University of Chicago

Stephen M. Walt
Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs
Harvard University

I have been informed that the Zionist lobby has been pressuring other institutions to cancel their invitations to Mearsheimer/Walt, including the World Affairs Council in Dallas, but thus far only the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has not stood firm.

2 comments ↪
  • Christina

    Has anyone ever noticed how even the mildest criticism of Israel immediately gets the knee-jerk designation 'controversial' in the US media? Apart from the fact that it's hard to find a book or article that is not 'controversial – in the sense of having some people disagree with it – surely having 'controversial' speakers is a good thing for an institution? Who wants to pay to hear someone telling you that the earth revolves around the sun? Quite apart from the fact, that, as they themselves admit, Mearsheimer's and Walt's views are actually very mild, and are only 'controversial' in the rarified realms of the Zionist lobbies themselves.

    Another typical point is the requirement for 'balance' whenever views critical of Israel are expressed. As the authors note, of course, such requirements are never made in reverse.

  • Irene Decker

    In a country where the Religious Right will be attacking teaching that the earth revolves aroung the sun soon, having pressed "Intelligent Design" on schools to produce even more unintelligent people this is to be expected.

    Some lobby to enact the reverse requirements is needed.