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.

Violence is a means and an end: an interview with Mark Danner

My latest article for New Matilda is an interview with leading American reporter Mark Danner:

Leading US journalist Mark Danner calls a spade a spade and examines the political value of violence in this exclusive interview with Antony Loewenstein

Mark Danner has some unusual characteristics for a mainstream US journalist.

He has published in some of America’s finest literary journals and is an irregular contributor to the New Yorker and New York Review of Books. Yet despite his impeccable media establishment credentials he remains entirely capable of critiquing its failures.

In an exclusive interview with last week, Danner covered a lot of ground. He is haunted by his country’s use, abuse and boasting of torture on “enemy combatants” and the inability or unwillingness of Obama to challenge the criminality of the Bush years.

I raised with him the roughly 700 military bases or outposts across the world that Washington acknowledges it operates, according to American historian Chalmers Johnson. When I asked Danner what the US needs them for, he spoke with a frankness unusual in a mainstream journalist about the way the media avoids using words “empire” and “imperialism” to describe America’s role in the world.

“People don’t want to use that kind of terminology because they’ll get placed on the Left. It is viewed as an inherent denunciation of American policy. To talk about empire, you’re automatically Noam Chomsky, you’re making a point about hegemony but I don’t see it like that. The United States has imperial visions and responsibilities and that’s just a fact. It obviously works differently to the Roman Empire or the British Empire.

“But the US worldwide has interests and it controls the sea-lanes. The American navy is absolutely unparalleled in the world and nobody rivals this power. There is no other worldwide navy, though the Soviets tried to build one and failed. That’s what empires do — they keep the sea-lanes clear. China is building a blue-water navy but it’s generally thought that Beijing wants to construct a ‘string of pearls’ — military bases from China to Africa because at this stage their foreign policy is primarily focused on securing resources.”

Danner was in town last week to give a talk at Sydney University, and to promote his most recent book, Stripping Bare the Body. During his talk Danner challenged the core beliefs of the American-led battle against terrorism by outlining the wide gulf between reality and rhetoric. He cited President Barack Obama’s “eloquent address” in Cairo last June that articulated the importance of reframing the relationship between the West and the Muslim world.

But Washington seemed to ignore the contradictions of an African-American president talking about democracy and human rights while still wholeheartedly backing dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt are key targets for al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. Danner observes that while such inconsistencies might escape the mainstream Western voter, they are at the very centre of the way people in non-Western countries see US behaviour. Obama’s seeming endorsement of the policies of client states such as these — or at least no public moves to condemn their brutality — plays directly into the hands of those who point to America as the great hypocrite.

In that context, Danner argued that the Muslim Brotherhood gaining influence in Egypt through democratic elections should be cautiously welcomed and a “salutary” lesson for a super-power long used to backing anti-democratic forces.

He argued that after one year in office, Obama would get a failing grade on the project of completely ending torture and closing Guantanamo Bay. More ominously, lamented Danner, many polls find a majority of Americans now believe that torture is necessary to keep the homeland safe from terrorist attack. “Fear is now a permanent feature of American life”, Danner said.

He reminded the audience that the filibuster technique, ruthlessly used by the Republicans in the last 12 months to block Democrat-led initiatives in Congress, had an ironic history. “It used to be something Democrats used to block civil rights legislation to allow African-Americans to vote”, Danner explained, “and today the same tool is being used by the Republicans against a African-American President.” He wasn’t optimistic that this political gridlock would be broken anytime soon.

Far from being a beltway analyst, commenting on events from the safety of the US, much of Danner’s fame stems from his influential first-hand coverage of conflicts outside the US and of the effects of his country’s foreign policy. As well, his work has dealt frequently with the seeming inability of the corporate press to report honestly on conflicts and trauma both near and far from America. “The verdict since 9/11 is quite mixed”, he told me. “What the press did in the run-up to the Iraq war was a terrible job. One of the mitigating reasons for that was that the Bush administration chose to make its case [over Iraq] on intelligence grounds and put journalists in the position of being seals, wanting fish. The ones who clapped most agreeably, such as Judith Miller at the New York Times, got the biggest fish. Intelligence stories depend on leaks. Secondly, the political elites essentially closed ranks over the invasion.”

Danner argues that the Iraq invasion potentially hurt the Democrats more than the Republicans, as the so-called “Left” didn’t want to be seen as being on the wrong side of history. “Anybody on the Democratic side who thought they might be President in 2004, such as Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, all supported the war; it was the smart vote, in part because of what happened after the earlier Iraq conflict in 1991 when Democrats opposed a very popular war.”

Violence as a catalyst for action is something that Danner looks at in a variety of ways in his book. As he says, “for leaders in a democracy, charged with crafting a foreign policy that can attract consensus or at least acquiescence, the instinctual power exerted by the spectacle of violence is a reality to be managed and sometimes feared.”

And that’s a dynamic that has certainly applied to the rapacious relationship between the US and a place in which Danner did some of his most powerful early journalism: Haiti. In the aftermath of the recent earthquake, Danner wrote in the New York Times that the country needed a serious and long-term commitment from Washington to build a “new Haiti”, but not of the militaristic kind: “Haitians have grown up in a certain kind of struggle for individuality and for power, and the country has proved itself able to absorb the ardent attentions of outsiders who, as often as not, remain blissfully unaware of their own contributions to what Haiti is. Like the ruined bridges strewn across the countryside — one of the few traces of the Marines and their occupation nearly a century ago — these attentions tend to begin in evangelical zeal and to leave little lasting behind.”

Events have brought Haiti back to attention in the most unfortunate way. But it is hard to see a lot of hope for the US altering the way it goes about its business there or elsewhere. In one of the most telling passages in Stripping Bare the Body, Danner describes another US intervention in Haiti, this time during Clinon pesidency: “The Americans, exerting their overwhelming power to reshape the politics of a tiny immiserated land, failed disastrously in Haiti. They underestimated the nationalist response that would accompany their every move, blundering about like a watchmaker blinded by his own shadow.”

And to anyone who has watched the US in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, that’s a description that sounds tragically familiar.

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