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.

We have failed and must start again

Daniel Barenboim, musician, conductor and initiator of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, releases a letter (also signed by a host of leading global figures):

For the last forty years, history has proven that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict cannot be settled by force. Every effort, every possible means and resource of imagination and reflection should now be brought into play to find a new way forward. A new initiative which allays fear and suffering, acknowledges the injustice done, and leads to the security of Israelis and Palestinians alike. An initiative which demands of all sides a common responsibility: to ensure equal rights and dignity to both peoples, and to ensure the right of each person to transcend the past and aspire to a future.

3 comments ↪
  • Caroline Glick

    Operation Cast Lead caused many people to reassess the viability of the sacrosanct "two-state solution." A growing number of observers have pointed out that Hamas's Iranian-sponsored jihadist regime in Gaza is proof that Israel has no way to ensure that land it transfers to the PLO-Fatah will remain under PLO-Fatah control.

    This reassessment has also provoked a discussion of the PLO-Fatah's own failures since it formed the Palestinian Authority in 1994. Despite the billions of dollars it received from Israel and the West, its Western trained armed forces numbering more than 75,000 and the bottomless reserve of international political support it enjoys, the PLO-Fatah regime did not build a state, but a kleptocratic thugocracy where the rule of law was replaced by the rule of the jackboot. Instead of teaching its people to embrace peace, freedom and democracy, the PLO-Fatah-led PA indoctrinated them to wage jihad against Israel in a never-ending war.

    These reassessments have led three leading conservative thinkers – former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, Middle East Forum president Daniel Pipes, and Efraim Inbar, director of Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies – to all publish articles over the past month rejecting the two-state solution.

    Bolton, Pipes and Inbar not only agree that the two-state paradigm has failed, they also agree on what must be done now to "solve" the Palestinian conflict. In their view the failed "two-state solution" should be replaced with what Bolton refers to as the "three-state solution." All three analysts begin their analyses with the assertion that Israel is uninterested in controlling Gaza, Judea and Samaria. Since the Palestinians have shown they cannot be trusted with sovereignty, the three argue that the best thing to do is to return the situation to what it was from 1949 to 1967: Egypt should reassert its control over Gaza and Jordan should reassert its control over Judea and Samaria.

    Bolton, Pipes and Inbar acknowledge that Egypt and Jordan have both rejected the idea but argue that they should be pressured to reconsider. They explain that Egypt fears that Hamas – a sister organization of its own Muslim Brotherhood – will destabilize it. Jordan for its part has two reasons for refusing their plan. The Hashemite kingdom is a minority regime. A large majority of Jordanians are ethnic Palestinians. Adding another 1.2 million from Judea and Samaria could destabilize the kingdom. Then too, both the PLO and Hamas are themselves threats to the regime. The Hashemites still remember how with Syrian support, the PLO in 1970 attempted to overthrow them.

    As for Hamas, its popularity has grown in Jordan in tandem with its empowerment in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. By integrating the west and east banks of the Jordan River, the chance that Hamas would challenge the regime increases dramatically. If we add to the mix Syrian subversion and sponsorship of Hamas, and al-Qaida penetration of Jordan through Iraq – particularly in the event of a US withdrawal – the danger that merging the west and east bank populations would manifest to the Hashemite regime becomes apparent.

    IT IS OFTEN NOTED that Hamas's popularity among Palestinians owes in part to the corruption of the PLO-Fatah-controlled PA. It has also been noted that due to the PLO-Fatah-controlled PA's jihadist indoctrination of Palestinian society, the population's transfer of political loyalty from PLO-Fatah to Hamas was ideologically seamless.

    What has been little noted is the strategic significance of the nature of Hamas's relations with the PLO-Fatah from the establishment of the PA in1994 until Hamas ousted it from Gaza in 2007. When the PA was established in 1994, then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin argued that the PLO-Fatah shared Israel's interest in fighting Hamas because Hamas constituted a threat to its authority.

    What Rabin failed to recognize was that Hamas's threat to PLO-Fatah was and remains qualitatively different from the threat it poses to Israel. PLO-Fatah never had a problem with Hamas attacks against Israel, or with its annihilationist ideology as regards Israel. This ideology is shared by PLO-Fatah and is widely popular among the Palestinians. Consequently not only did the PLO-Fatah never prevent Hamas from attacking Israel, it collaborated with Hamas in attacking Israel and did so while disseminating Hamas's genocidal ideology throughout the PA. PLO-Fatah did crack down on Hamas when it felt that Hamas was threatening its grip on power, but in all other respects, it supported Hamas – and continues to do so.

    THE SAME UNFORTUNATELY is the situation in both Egypt and Jordan. Hamas's Nazi-like Jew hatred is shared by the vast majority of Jordanians and Egyptians. Islamist calls for the extermination of the Jewish people and the destruction of Israel dominate the mosques, seminaries, universities and media outlets in both countries. Popular opposition to the peace treaties that Egypt and Jordan signed with Israel stands consistently at more than 90 percent in both countries.

    In spite of repeated Israeli demands for action, PLO-Fatah never ended its support for jihadist anti-Semitism. The PLO-Fatah never believed – as Israel hoped it would – that its best chance for remaining in power was by teaching Palestinians to reject hatred, embrace freedom, democracy and the blessings that peace would afford them. So too, neither the Hashemites in Jordan nor President Hosni Mubarak's regime in Egypt have ever believed that the best way to stabilize or strengthen their own regimes is by preaching openness and peace and rejecting jihadist anti-Semitism. To the contrary, in recent years, Egypt has become the center for jihadist anti-Semitism in the Arab world and Jordan has one of the highest rates of Jew hatred in the world.

    The situation on the ground in Jordan, Egypt, Gaza and Judea and Samaria make two things clear. First, a Jordanian reassertion of control over Judea and Samaria and an Egyptian reassertion of control over Gaza would likely increase the chances that the moderate regimes in both countries would be weakened and perhaps overthrown. Second, like Fatah-PLO, neither Egypt nor Jordan would have any interest in protecting Israel from Palestinian terrorists.

    Bolton, Inbar and Pipes take for granted that Israel is uninterested in asserting or retaining control over Gaza, Judea, and Samaria. This is reasonable given the positions of recent governments on the issue. However, the question is not whether Israel is interested or uninterested in asserting control over the areas – and most Israelis are uninterested in giving up control over Judea and Samaria in light of what happened after Israel withdrew its forces and civilians from Gaza.

    THE SALIENT QUESTION is now that it is clear that the two-state solution has failed, what is the best option for managing the conflict? Not only would Israel be unable to trust that its security situation would improve if the areas were to revert to Jordanian and Egyptian control, Israel could trust that its security situation would rapidly deteriorate as the prospect of regional war increased. With a retrocession of Gaza, Judea and Samaria to Egyptian and Jordanian rule, Israel would find itself situated within indefensible borders, and facing the likely prospect that the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes would be destabilized.

    Today Israel has the ability to enter Gaza without concern that doing so would provoke war with Egypt. It has minimized the terror threat from Judea and Samaria by controlling the areas with the massive help of the strong Israeli civilian presence in the areas which ensures control over the roads and the heights. IDF forces can operate freely within the areas without risking war with Jordan. The IDF controls the long border with Jordan and can prevent terrorist infiltration from the east.

    If the current situation is preferable to the "three-state solution" and if the current situation itself is unsustainable, the question again arises, what should be done? What new policy paradigm should replace the failed two-state solution?

    The best way to move forward is to reject the calls for a solution and concentrate instead on stabilization. With rockets and mortars launched from Gaza continuing to pummel the South despite Operation Cast Lead, and with the international community's refusal to enforce UN Security Council resolutions barring Iran from exporting weapons, it is clear that Gaza will remain an Iranian-sponsored, Hamas-controlled area for as long as Hamas retains control over the international border with Egypt.

    So Israel must reassert control over the border.

    It is also clear that Hamas and its terrorist partners in Fatah and Islamic Jihad will continue to target the South for as long as they can.

    So Israel needs to establish a security zone inside of Gaza wide enough to remove the South from rocket and mortar range.

    From an economic perspective, it is clear that in the long run, Gaza's only prospect for development is an economic union of sorts with the largely depopulated northern Sinai. For years, Egypt has rejected calls for economic integration with Gaza. Cairo should be pressured to reassess its position as Israel stabilizes the security situation in Gaza itself.

    AS FOR JUDEA and Samaria, Israel should continue its military control over the areas in order to ensure its national security. It should also apply its law to the areas of Judea and Samaria that are within the domestic consensus. These areas include the Etzion, Adumim, Adam, Ofra and Ariel settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley.

    Israel should end its support for the PLO-Fatah-led PA, and support the empowerment of non-jihadist elements of Palestinian society to lead a new autonomous authority in the areas. These new leaders, who may be the traditional leaders of local clans, should be encouraged to either integrate within Israel or seek civil confederation with Jordan. Jordan could take a larger role in the civil affairs of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, by for instance reinstating their Jordanian citizenship which it illegally revoked in 1988. At the same time, Israel should end its freeze on building for Israeli communities in the areas.

    It is obvious today that for the Palestinians to develop into a society that may be capable of statehood in the long term, they require a period of a generation or two to rebuild their society in a peaceful way. They will not do this in environments where terrorists are ideologically aligned with unpopular, repressive regimes.

    The option of continued and enhanced Israeli control is unattractive to many. But it is the only option that will provide an environment conducive to such a long-term reorganization of Palestinian society that will also safeguard Israel's own security and national well-being.

    While it is vital to recognize that the failed two-state solution must be abandoned, it is equally important that it not be replaced with another failed proposition. The best way to move forward is by adopting a stabilization policy that enables Israel to secure itself while providing an opportunity for Palestinians to integrate gradually and peacefully with their Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian neighbors.

  • delia ruhe

    I just keep thinking about how we all rushed to get Iraq out of poor little Kuwait back in the early 90s. How noble we all were then!

  • David Singer

    Palestine – Obama Quicksteps Into The Quicksand

    America's Ambassador to Jordan Robert Beecroft gave a revealing interview to the Jordan Times on 5 February concerning the proposal by Bolton, Pipes and Inbar calling for the return of Jordan and Egypt to the West Bank and Gaza.

    This interview coincided with a report by Sandy Tolan in The Christian Science Monitor on 4 February – that the Roadmap negotiations to create a new Arab State between Israel and Jordan – the so called “two state solution” – were on “their death bed “.

    Ambassador Beecroft’s response to Bolton was short and sweet:

    “Bolton is not part of the Government. He does not speak for the Government. The position of the US is very clear … the policy of the US is a two state solution – Israeli and Palestinian states [that live] side by side.

    That is the end of the isssue …it has appeared in the press … but there is no official support for anything other than the two-state solution”

    One would imagine that these were not “off the cuff” remarks made by a diplomat without the approval of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    Ambassador Beecroft is not your ordinary run of the mill diplomat. Prior to taking up his position in Jordan on July 17, 2008 he had served as Executive Assistant to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell and as Special Assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. He had previously been stationed at the U.S. embassies in Riyadh and Damascus.

    Clearly his views echoed those of President Obama just one week earlier on Al Arabiya television::

    QUESTION: Will it still be possible to see a Palestinian state—and you know the contours of it—within the first Obama administration?

    THE PRESIDENT: I think it is possible for us to see a Palestinian state—I’m not going to put a time frame on it—that is contiguous, that allows freedom of movement for its people, that allows for trade with other countries, that allows the creation of businesses and commerce so that people have a better life…

    Amazingly not one mention of the Roadmap or the intention to press on with the two state solution had been specifically made by Ms Clinton in the 63 pages of the transcript of the proceedings to confirm Ms Clinton’s appointment as Secretary of State on 13 January 2009.

    In his own confirmation hearings before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 1 May 2008 Mr Beecroft had been most effusive in his praise of Jordan stating:

    “We [America] have no closer friend or ally in the Arab world than Jordan….Jordan is committed to the Roadmap and is tangibly supporting the process..”

    Jordan is clearly uncomfortable at any suggestion that it return to the West Bank.

    Xinhua News Agency on 1 February reported Jordan’s King Abdullah telling US Special Envoy George Mitchell :

    “We need to act quickly – without wasting time – on negotiations based on two states and not be diverted by new proposals”

    Whilst President Obama and Ambassador Beecroft have obliged Abdullah by endorsing America’s commitment to the two state solution, it is significant that neither mentioned the Roadmap as the route to follow to achieve that end result.

    Only one other plan on the table seeks to attain that goal – the 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative. This just happens to also be King Abdullah’s preferred option.

    However this Initiative has been rejected by Israel for the same reasons that have seen the downfall of the Roadmap negotiations – the Arab demands that Israel return to the 1967 armistice lines and that millions of Arabs (and their descendants) who fled to escape the 1948 War between Israel and six invading Arab armies be allowed to return and live in Israel.

    The Arab League has indicated that it is not interested in any discussions and the Initiative is offered on a “take it or leave it” basis.

    No Israeli Government would be prepared to agree to either of these Arab demands.

    President Obama will quickly find himself sinking in the quicksand that claimed former American Presidents – Carter, Clinton and Bush – if he embarks on trying to achieve any two state solution in the current political climate prevailing in the West Bank and Gaza.

    Before he takes the plunge President Obama would do well to contemplate the following advice of respected author and journalist Tom Segev who has accurately summed up the current situation in an article written by him in this month’s Le Monde Diplomatique:

    “All possible solutions for ultimate peace are already on the table – and none can be realised. Even Obama himself can do nothing to create final peace. Making life more liveable for this and the next generation seems the improvement that is most possible and the most urgent.”

    Ambassador Beecroft’s peremptory rejection of Jordan returning to the West Bank to make life easier for the Arab residents living there – and thereby freeing them from Israeli occupation by restoring the status quo existing between 1948-1967 – may well turn out to have been too hasty and ill advised.

    America may have to pressure its closest ally – Jordan – in the Arab world to do just that.

    In the Middle East it is always preferable to dance to the slow waltz than the quickstep.