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.

Compassionate and anti-war, the sign of true leadership

A fine piece of analysis from leading Australian academic Damien Kingsbury published in Friday’s Crikey. Note the opposition to war, injection of nuance into the debate, avoidance of demonisation and clear moral purpose. In other words, vastly different to most “serious” academics and journalists parading themselves in the media. There’s always a war to support somewhere, hey lads?

The Australian government’s approaches on asylum seekers, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iraq are debacles that reflect an inability to break with Howard-era approaches to foreign policy. Trying to turn the Howard-era foreign policy sow’s ear into a Rudd government silk purse is doomed to policy failure.

What does work, and could have reasonably been expected from the Rudd government, is starting from a clean slate. Going back to Labor Party policy and what is in Australia’s long-term best interest would have produced, and could still produce, some very different results.

On asylum seekers, the numbers coming to Australia are minuscule compared to other signatories to the Refugee Convention. Rather than pander to the artificial panic about Australia being swamped, the government should have taken, and can still take, a practical and morally defensible leadership role.

It should note that the underlying assumption of the numbers of asylum seekers is great is factually incorrect. Second, anyone prepared to risk their life and those of their loved ones on a perilous sea journey more than likely has pretty good reasons to do so. That asylum seekers are, after processing, almost entirely found to be genuine refugees needs to be made clear.

Third, asylum seekers can and should be accommodated within the Australian community during processing. Locking them in a prison on a remote island for the crime of being a victim is at best inhumane, and arguably barbaric. Australia’s traditional value of supporting the underdog indicates we are better than that.

And do we forget so quickly that Australia accommodated many tens of thousands of refugees following the Second World War, who have contributed so richly to our evolving culture? Do we forget that we are, bar indigenous communities, all descendant of people seeking (or being forced to have) a new start?

A few wild-eyed rednecks from the lunatic fringe will, of course, froth at the mouth. But they are not government supporters anyway. And the Opposition’s record on asylum seekers is so woeful that any half-humane case for accepting asylum seekers would counter that in minutes.

But, of course, the problem is not that asylum seekers wish to come here. It is that people are compelled to flee their homes. On this, Australia would do well to join the US and the EU and cast a sharply critical eye over the Sri Lankan government’s treatment of its own citizens and its rapid slide towards military authoritarianism.

Sharply restricting aid to other than displaced Tamils would be a good start, to be followed by joining the international chorus of condemnation of Sri Lanka’s litany of war crimes and human rights abuses that are daily becoming more apparent. Sending asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka, as suggested by one or two of our less intellectually astute politicians, would be complicity in their murder.

On this side of the Indian Ocean, Australia’s relationship with Indonesia has always been tricky, and is so again. The one lesson from this that even the crusty old Jakarta Lobby agrees with is that Australia-Indonesia bilateral relations must be built not on personal relationships, which change, but on institutional relationships. That way, if Indonesia’s president says we have an agreement, we might actually expect to see it implemented.

But using Indonesia as a dumping ground for hapless asylum seekers is extraordinarily ill-conceived, from any perspective. If an Australian ship picks up asylum seekers then, under the Refugee Convention to which Australia is a signatory, we have a binding duty of care. The Australian government needs to be clear on this.

Among other foreign policy blunders, one can only hope that Australia will end its military presence from Iraq and make fulsome reparations for its share in the havoc and misery there. Fulsome field consultation and generous support for improving health, education, potable water and, not least, rule of law, in what are now functionally the three autonomous provinces of Iraq, would be small steps in the right direction.

In Afghanistan, following the UK, Australian combat troops should be withdrawn, in tandem with ramped-up efforts at second track diplomacy with members of the alliance of anti-Westerners currently loosely grouped under the heading of “Taliban”.

Again, proper, sustainable development, based on field consultation and again focusing on education and health care, infrastructure and public education around rule of law, are critical to political stability.

It is possible to see in Afghanistan a government that is not corrupt (as the Taliban in government were not), does not harbour international criminals (the Taliban might have learned from that error of judgement), and which does not seek to destabilise its region (which has occurred with the initial complicity of Pakistani military intelligence).

The US, Australia and others withdrew from Vietnam, in humiliation, in the early 1970s. Thereafter followed a few years of unhappiness, the inevitable consequence of resolving the outstanding issues of a bitter civil war. But Vietnam stabilised and prospered, and is now a respected international partner, if not yet a paragon of democratic openness.

Afghanistan has never enjoyed Vietnam’s historic unity and is unlikely to succeed as a unitary state. It may, however, at least stabilise, and from that stability develop more peacefully. This, however, will not happen while the country is occupied by foreign armies that provide ordinary Afghanis with a reason to destroy rather than rebuild their societies.

From  January 1, Damien Kingsbury will assume an appointment as a Personal Chair in the School of International and Political Studies at Deakin University.

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