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.

An insignificant Iraq withdrawal

My following article appears in today’s ABC Unleashed:

Retired Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez, the onetime commander of US troops in Iraq, has recently released a book about his time in the country. In Wiser in Battle: A Soldier’s Story, he recalls a teleconference with US President George W. Bush soon after four contractors were killed in Fallujah in 2004. Bush said:

“If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can’t send that message. It’s an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal.

“There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!”

This is the man whose war the former Australian Prime Minister John Howard said this week was his “personal decision” to join due to the September 11 attacks and the US alliance. Kevin Rudd’s belated move to remove the 550 Australian combat troops from the war-torn nation should be welcomed, along with his rationale for doing so.

He rightly chastised the war for inflaming terrorism and causing a humanitarian disaster in Iraq and the region. The exact death toll remains unclear, but well over a million lives is likely, according to Iraqi sources. The Age merely calls the conflict an “unwise military adventure”.

Predictably, Murdoch war boosters criticised Rudd for the withdrawal, praising the occupation as a success and endorsing a comment by Western Australian Liberal senator Dennis Jensen who said this week that the war was “essentially being won”.

The Australian editorialised that “the Iraqi people would be much worse off today had Australia and its coalition partners allowed al-Qa’ida and other jihadist forces to fill the void created by the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.”

Unfortunately, US-backed militias are now in control of the country, bounty hunters who have been bought by the highest bidder. Equally forgotten is the fact that, according to author Jeremy Scahill, “without [defence contractor] Blackwater, the occupation of Iraq would be untenable.”

Notably absent from the media coverage of Australia’s partial withdrawal – many troops are remaining to allegedly protect Australian interests in Baghdad – are Iraqi voices. What do they think of the Western influence in their nation? Last weekend’s massive protest in Baghdad proved that a long-term US presence is opposed.

Moreover, a majority of citizens in the US, Australia and Britain oppose the war and want troops withdrawn as soon as possible. Instead, the corporate media publishes articles from “foreign policy advisors” who pontificate on the strength of the US/Australian alliance. The Iraqi people are invisible.

More than five years after the invasion, much of the mainstream media now ignores the war. According to a study by the US-based Project for Excellence in Journalism, “during the first 10 weeks of 2007, Iraq accounted for 23 percent of the news for network TV news. In 2008, it plummeted to 3 percent during that period. On cable networks it fell from 24 percent to 1 percent.”

What our media should be investigating is the real reason for the apparent fall in violence across the country (though still unacceptably high.) Paying off perceived enemies is clearly something to be praised, not questioned. Returned American soldiers continue to speak out publicly about the horrors inflicted by them in Iraq and yet their voices are shunned.

Seth Manzel, a vehicle commander and machine gunner in the U.S. Army, told around 800 people at the Seattle Town Hall in an event last weekend sponsored by the Northwest Regional Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), that, “I watched Iraqi police bring in someone to interrogate. There were four men on the prisoner… one was pummelling his kidneys with his fists, another was inserting a bottle up his rectum. It looked like a frat house gang-rape.” Liberation, indeed. Racism, dehumanisation and random violence were daily occurrences.

The proper role of the media is scepticism and critical thinking. Sadly, the Iraq war has shown the majority of journalists either capitulated to government pressure or saw their role as simply enabling the conflict. With Germany’s former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer this week warning that he feared an American or Israeli attack on Iran before the end of the Bush administration, the Middle East could soon become even more chaotic.

Australia’s relatively insignificant withdrawal from Iraq should be placed in the appropriate context.

one comment ↪
  • mallee

    Very good appraisal Antony, I hope it is republished in some of our alleged "news" papers.
    I note that our 'News" papers (in Sydney) did not publish the ABC article; 'Howard accused of war crimes over Iraq troop deployment" at http//abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/02/2262414.htm and broadcast over ABC radio on 2.6.08.
    It is interesting that the invasion was Mr. Howard's personal decision.
    Next time our politicians want to go and kill people to steal their resources for other interests and identities, may I humbly request as a courtesy that they ask the Australian public, or at least have a motion carried in parliament by a 75% majority.
    However I do not completely agree that our withdrawal is insignificant. One can never underestimate the importance of example and with any luck it will assist in keeping us out of the threatened further expansion of Middle East attempted conquests and the expansionist agendas of those who pushed for the attempted conquest in the first place commencing with those who drafted the 'Plan For the New American Century '(see the document)
    Not to mention; that our soldiers are returning alive!!!