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.

Australia rolls out the welcome mat for war criminal retirees

My following article appears in today’s Crikey:

The news that defeated Sri Lankan presidential candidate and former army chief Sarath Fonseka may claim temporary asylum in Australia due to fears for his life  is the latest saga in the country’s ongoing tragedy.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith denies that Australian officials in Colombo ever received an approach by Fonseka and the man himself now denies seeking asylum.

The International Crisis Group late last week  said that Fonseka could justifiably be concerned for his personal safety due to incumbent Mahinda Rajapakse’s brutal dictatorship that tolerates no real dissent.

Fonseka’s party’s offices have been raided in Colombo and many of his supporters arrested. He now threatens to make information public that highlights the murky world of disappearances and murders over past years. Journalists have been particularly vulnerable.

But this is not the typical story of an election loser. Fonseka is front and centre of serious allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the regime’s 2009 military defeat of the Tamil Tigers.

He fled America in November last year before US officials could interview him over alleged war crimes and by year’s end he had accused Sri Lanka’s defence minister, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the President’s brother, of ordering the killing of surrendering Tiger rebels in May.

The People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka, held by distinguished judges and witnesses in Dublin in January, found Sri Lanka was guilty of “war crimes” but charges of “genocide” would have to be investigated further.

I have spoken to several individuals who were in the combat zone in the final months of last year’s war and they have detailed the government’s deliberate shelling and bombing of civilians and infrastructure, including hospitals. Human Rights Watch has demanded international accountability for countless violations.

Jake Lynch, director of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, has documented Canberra’s “official hand-wringing … accompanied by a notable pusillanimity” when faced with Sri Lanka’s crimes. Trade has trumped human rights time and time again.

For Australia to even consider Fonseka’s potential application for asylum would be a grave breach of international law, with serious charges in desperate need of investigation.

Sadly, it would also be unsurprising in the context of Australia’s history of welcoming war criminals and those accused of genocide.

Successive Australian governments, from both sides of politics, have dragged their heels in seriously pursuing the accused. An ABC TV 7.30 Report from 1999 named three suspected war criminals, including Latvians Konrad Kalejs, Carlos Ozols and Heinrich Wagner, allegedly involved in an Ukranian death squad during World War Two.

“Any suggestion that we’re half-hearted about pursuing this matter [prosecuting Nazi war criminals], I frankly find quite offensive,”  said then Justice Minister Amanda Vanstone. Yet the Howard government failed as miserably as all governments before them. The current circus over suspected Hungarian war criminal Charles Zentai is only compounding the problem.

In his book War Criminals Welcome (Black Inc, 2001), Mark Aarons reveals the litany of suspected murderers allowed to live free in Australia. Former fighters in the Soviet-controlled Afghan army who executed members of the Mujahadeen, Serbian paramilitary units, Rwandan and Croat killers and Nazi suspects all thrived here due to government “indifference”.

“I think it’s the only crime in Australian law,” Aarons told ABC TV’s Lateline in 2001, “where journalists and the communities affected by the crime are expected to produce the evidence and to conduct the investigations.”

This is exactly what happened when an East Timorese woman recognised in 2008 a World Youth Day pilgrim as Gui Campos, a member of the Indonesian military’s Intelligence Task Force in East Timor during the 1990s and accused torturer during Indonesia’s occupation.

The Lowy Institute released a report last year that highlighted the systemic failures in pursuing war criminals. The conclusion was grim and almost pleaded for the Rudd government to take its global responsibilities seriously, if for no other reason than to, “demonstrate its credentials as a good international citizen in the context of its bid to win a UN Security Council seat.”

Discussing an application from Sareth Fonseka should not allow Australian officials to forget the other prominent Sri Lankan figure on suspicion of war crimes. Dr Palitha Kohona, a dual Sri Lankan/Australian citizen and current Sri Lankan UN representative in New York, is alleged to have negotiated the surrender of senior Tamil Tigers in the closing days of the war (the Tigers were allegedly shot in cold blood). His public comments on the matter have varied widely. He called in May 2009 the aerial bombardment of civilians justified then changed his mind a few weeks later.

Again, an Australian citizen is accused of serious war crimes; ANU Professor of International Law Don Rothwell has said the information warrants a preliminary investigation and yet authorities have remained silent.

Of course, the issue of investigating war crimes should not be solely directed at leaders and officials in developing countries. The international legal system remains fundamentally deficient due to the highly selective nature of its usual mandate. Why, for example, aren’t there serious questions asked when senior Israeli ministers visit Australia, some of whom are accused by the UN Goldstone Report of committing war crimes in Gaza?

The aftermath of Sri Lanka’s recently disputed election puts even more pressure on Canberra to take its global responsibilities seriously. Failing to do so would simply add another chapter in the already dismal history of Australia allowing sanctuary to killers, brutes and generals.

They don’t deserve a relaxing retirement.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney journalist and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution.

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