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.

Obama in Cairo

My following article was published today on the popular US website Mondoweiss:

Back in 2005, then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a rousing speech at Cairo’s American University. “For sixty years”, she argued, “my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East – and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all peoples.”

Rice spoke passionately to a skeptical Arab world. Few were convinced after the Iraq war’s chaos. Before Barack Obama’s Cairo address today, Egyptian bloggers were largely cynical, local journalist Hossam el-Hamalawy demanded Washington sever its ties with the brutal Egyptian dictatorship and a recent study found that Egyptians still negatively viewed US foreign policy.

“It may serve President Obama well to remember”, wrote the former Al-Ahram correspondent in Washington DC, Ayman El-Amir, “that terrorism is rooted more in the economic, social and political marginalisation of hundreds of millions of people under the control of self-perpetuating autocracies than in religious fervour.” Obama had little to say about the US-backed despots his country funds and arms – Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Obama’s speech was at once moving, revealing, predictable, rhetorically elegant, largely empty and devoid of detail. Words matter, of course, and the current US President has the gift of the gab. Jeffrey Goldberg was swooning, but Ali Abunimah understands the Middle East far better.  There was “overwhelming popular opposition to increasingly intrusive and violent American military, political and economic interventions”, Abunimah argued. Obama spoke as if American behaviour in the Middle East was well meaning, if sometimes misguided. Tell that to the tens of millions of people living under US-backed rule.

On Israel/Palestine, Obama at least acknowledged the pain of the truly aggrieved party:

“…The Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”

While it’s important for America to understand the squalor in which the Palestinian people live – largely due to Zionist aggression, Western-support and Arab government inaction – Obama’s dismissal of the democratically-elected Hamas party was disappointing. “Palestinians must abandon violence”, the US President bluntly stated. He’s right; targeting Israeli civilians is a crime without justification. But resisting occupation is both legitimate and necessary and the Muslim world knows all-too-well the silence and complicity during this year’s Gaza onslaught, the 2006 Lebanon war and West Bank pogroms. This kind of violence went unremarked. Should this not stop, too?

“The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

Abunimah points out that Obama isn’t here objecting to the colonial project per se but rather settlements “continuing” to expand. Even if Israel ceased all settlements today, there would still be around 500,000 settlers in the occupied territories, rendering any two-state solution dead on arrival. J Street, though, are just happy that Obama mentioned the two-state solution at all.

In many ways, Obama’s speech is the kind of event that only a US President would arrogantly presume needs to be given. Many Americans will cheer, oblivious to the damage their country has done to the region for decades. Words are necessary and important and Obama attempted to address all concerns (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran etc.)

His challenge to the US “empire” was laughable, however. Facts on the ground speak for themselves. An increase in air-strikes in Afghanistan has caused carnage. Afghan warlords are backed, funded and armed by Washington. Permanent bases in Iraq, including America’s largest embassy in the world, are visible to the Iraqi people. Unaccountable private, military contractors roam across Iraq and Afghanistan, their numbers having increased under Obama.

After the speech, The Nation’s Richard Dreyfuss was positive, but The Angry Arab was scathing. I can see why:

“He spoke about the repugnant practice of Holocaust denial but did not mention that the literature is entirely Western in that regard. And he then moves from a discussion of the Nazism to the Arab-Israeli conflict. What is his point here: that because of Nazi crimes, the Palestinians need to accommodate Zionist crimes on their lands? This is the most offensive section of course: he talks about the Palestinians without identifying who was doing those bad things to them. Look at this sentence: “have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation.” So their suffering is due to their pursuit of a homeland: so they should stop the pursuit and the suffering will go away.”

Having spent time in the Arab world, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism are undoubtedly real beasts that need to be tamed. Addressing them head-on is probably unavoidable. But Zionist denialism is just as pernicious, in my view. Last weekend’s Salute to Israel parade in New York didn’t even mention or acknowledge Arabs or Palestinians. How is this any less of a danger than ignoring the suffering and reality of Jews in Israel and Palestine? Zionist ideology is predicated on dominating the physical, psychological and military space, never allowing the Palestinian side to breath. Obama certainly acknowledged the “other” and in the sick American political system that’s probably an achievement.

The largely fawning response in the mainstream media to Obama’s speech is indicative of failed ideals. America speaks about being a beacon of hope to the world, something the US President stressed again in Cairo, but millions of global citizens know the truth. It’s the height of American arrogance to dictate terms of understanding and tolerance to the Arab world and should be viewed as such. It’s far too early to tell what Obama intends to actually achieve in the region, but his foreign policy actions thus far have differed very little from the Bush administration. Witness the carnage in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

What matters are actions, not fine words.

2 comments ↪
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  • Marilyn

    It will take more than a few months though to turn around decades of abuse, murder, occupation and invasions.

    How that is done I don't know but forcing Israel to tear down the monstrous apartheid wall would be a start.

    As for not mentioning who was oppressing Palestinians I don't think anyone on the planet doesn't know who is doing it.