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.

No such thing as humanitarian intervention

My latest New Matilda column is about the myth of “humanitarian intervention”:

Last week’s Australian withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq saw a flurry of establishment commentary on the rights and wrongs of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s decision.

Former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer wrote that, “despite the problems” in the war-torn country, “Australians should be proud that our contribution to Iraq has made that long-suffering country just a little bit better and the lives of its people just a little bit brighter.” The Australian‘s Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan echoed his former master’s voice.

Let’s ignore for now last week’s revelations by the US Senate Intelligence Committee that indicated Iran may have infiltrated the Pentagon and fed bogus intelligence to push for war against Iraq.

The insatiable appetite for the ongoing occupation of Iraq is unsurprising, as recent reports indicate US plans to maintain an indefinite presence in the country. Polling in the US, however, indicates a strong desire for American troops to return home within one year.

The profound disconnect between elite thinking and the views of those actually having to provide the troops for these missions is stark. Perhaps the imperial imperative isn’t inherent in the American psyche, after all.

So, if the Iraq war is “won” and a “democracy” has emerged, according to Murdoch cheerleader Andrew Bolt, what’s stopping the West conducting similarly violent interventions in the future against other despots? The fact that, according to Iraqi sources, over a million Iraqis have likely died since March 2003 is obviously a price worth paying.

“Humanitarian intervention” is a term that gained supposed credibility in the 1990s during the troubles in the former Yugoslavia. The fact that the atrocities by Serbian forces only accelerated after the illegal Western bombing appears to be forgotten. Noam Chomsky explained in 1999 the rationale behind the bombing of President Slobodan Milošević, allegedly to protect the Albanians:

“The threat of NATO bombing, predictably, led to a sharp escalation of atrocities by the Serbian Army and paramilitaries, and to the departure of international observers, which of course had the same effect. Commanding General Wesley Clark declared that it was ‘entirely predictable’ that Serbian terror and violence would intensify after the NATO bombing, exactly as happened. The terror for the first time reached the capital city of Pristina, and there are credible reports of large-scale destruction of villages, assassinations, generation of an enormous refugee flow, perhaps an effort to expel a good part of the Albanian population – all an ‘entirely predictable’ consequence of the threat and then the use of force, as General Clark rightly observes.”

The Western media blindly parroted the line that the Albanians were suffering “genocide” and Western assistance was essential to stop the worst ethnic cleansing since World War II. The International War Crimes Tribunal later discovered that less than 3000 people were discovered in “mass graves.” Atrocities? Yes. Justification for massive bombing? No.

NATO bombed public transport, hospitals, schools, museums, media offices, churches, causing massive loss of life. In 2003, former UN commander in Bosnia, Major General Lewis MacKenzie, wrote:

“The Kosovar Albanians played us like a Stradivarius violin. We have subsidised and indirectly supported their violent campaign for an ethnically pure Kosovo. We have never blamed them for being the perpetrators of the violence in the early 1990s, and we continue to portray them as the designated victim today, in spite of evidence to the contrary.”

Carla Del Ponte, the Swiss diplomat who became Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, wrote in a book this year how the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) abducted hundreds of Serbs in 1999 and took them to Kosovo’s fellow Muslims in Albania where they were killed, their kidneys and other body parts removed and sold for transplant in other countries.

The Western media often ignores such uncomfortable details. Although Saddam Hussein’s brutality is undeniable, his worst atrocities occurred when Washington supported and provided him with chemical weapons. The “humanitarian” arguments for invading Iraq – mostly made after weapons of mass destruction were never found – mirrored those in the late 1990s to “save” the Albanians. Despite the catastrophe in Iraq, both “liberals” and “conservatives” continue to agitate for the application of military force to unseat “bad” regimes.

Zimbabwe is a failed State run by a dictator. Robert Mugabe, in a desperate bid to maintain power in the run-off election in late June, is using violence against opponents and withholding food aid to the needy. International aid agency CARE and other international aid have been directed to suspend its operations after being accused of supporting the Opposition.

All these charges are impossible to verify and the MDC Opposition has clearly established bonds with foreign governments and institutions and leader Morgan Tsvangirai threatened violence against Mugabe in 2000. One Western diplomat said last week that a military coup had already occurred in Zimbabwe. A Human Rights Watch report is equally damning.

When I heard Tsvangirai speak in Sydney in August 2007 however, he appeared determined to democratically unseat Mugabe at the ballot box. But what if peaceful transition is impossible? How much support should the Western powers provide and what are the conditions on which this support is offered?

Take Burma. The military junta is brutal, corrupt and derelict in its duty to assist victims of Cyclone Nargis. There has been justifiable anger at the refusal of authorities to allow aid to reach the millions of displaced and starving refugees. Alexander Downer urged the use of military action to force aid into the country.

The US ordered a flotilla of naval vessels packed with emergency aid to leave last week after a month of trying fruitlessly to unload its payload. The country’s state media said it feared a US invasion to seize oil deposits. Laura Bush’s pronouncements didn’t help and was not welcomed by Burmese exiles.

An invasion is not an unjustified concern as Western multinationals are already operating there and colluding with the regime. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Ky once said, when opposing military intervention: “What about all these who trade with the generals, who give them many millions of dollars that keep them going?” She was referring to oil and gas companies such as Chevron, Total and Halliburton that assisted in the building of a key pipeline.

If the West were really serious about supporting rational voices in the country, it would demand these firms cease operating within Burma, but of course its outrage is saved only for those regimes over which it has little influence. It is merely a scrap of meat to appease baying columnists and a concerned public.

David Rieff is an American author, son of the late Susan Sontag, supporter of intervention against Milošević in the 1990s and supreme misanthrope (I spent time with him at the recent Sydney Writer’s Festival and was amazed by his ability to express contempt for seemingly everybody). In a recent column for the New York Times magazine, Rieff questions why Western nations so rarely intervene considering the UN-approved “responsibility to protect”. He explains:

“After the Iraqi debacle, it is hardly surprising that we are hesitant to undertake interventions that may well involve regime change. And regime change – its moral legitimacy and political practicality – is the ghost at the banquet of humanitarian intervention. Use any euphemism you wish, but in the end these interventions have to be about regime change if they are to have any chance of accomplishing their stated goal. (That is why they are opposed in many parts of the formerly colonised world even as they are supported in the formerly colonising West.) After all, how can the people of Darfur ever be safe as long as the same regime that sanctioned their slaughter rules unrepentant in Khartoum? Or, for that matter, how can the Burmese Government be trusted to look after the slow business of reconstruction in the zones hit by the cyclone if it was unconcerned with the fate of Nargis’s survivors from the beginning?”

While Iraq has undoubtedly changed the rules of the game, Rieff conveniently ignores the concept that Western nations, especially the United States and Britain, will never intervene in a nation merely for benevolent reasons. There is gross hypocrisy in even debating military intervention in war-torn countries when places such as Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq remain mired in Western-caused carnage.

Are the Burmese people suddenly more worthy of help than the Palestinians in Gaza? Should the people of Harare be “rescued” from Robert Mugabe but the citizens of Baghdad have to suffer years more of US-backed Shia militias? A true internationalist either believes in equal rights for all or nothing. Tragically, the “war on terror” has unleashed lashings of moral outrage from the political and media elite but little reflection on the effects of military action. While major reform of the UN and international systems of government are essential, a rush to arms is rarely the best course of action.

As leading Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji writes in his new book, The Road to Democracy in Iran:

“We must make it clear that we are against war, against foreign intervention in Iran and against solutions imposed by outsiders.”

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