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.

What does a Taliban fighter think?

My following book review appeared in Saturday’s Melbourne Age:

My Life with the Taliban
Abdul Salam Zaeef
Scribe, $45

The former UN special representative to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, told the BBC World Service in March that not negotiating with the Taliban was “unthinkable”. He condemned the arrest by American-backed Pakistani troops of prominent Taliban leaders and claimed it would have a “negative effect” on ongoing, secret peace talks with members of the insurgency.

The underlying and mistaken assumption of using military means to destroy an enemy is that the Taliban are essentially outsiders and not simply ordinary Afghans fighting foreign occupation. All sides have used brutal methods in this conflict.

Last December Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid that he guessed about 70 percent of the Taliban battled for local reasons or money rather than an ideological commitment to any movement. They could be bribed and won over, he claimed.

It is a position that would be seriously challenged by Abdul Salam Zaeef, a former Taliban minister and ambassador to Pakistan who spent more than four years imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. This autobiography, translated from his native Pashtun, details his life growing up in Kandahar province (he now lives under government protection in Kabul).

Zaeef’s stories are like those of countless others who became hardened fighters during the epic and ultimately successful war against the faltering Sovietempire.

He served under current Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Zaeef details a conversation with him just after the September11 attacks. Zaeef “did not [initially] believe” that New York and Washington had been attacked but the Islamic Emirate in Kandahar immediately condemned the atrocities: “We want them [the perpetrators] brought to justice and we want America to be patient and careful in their actions.”

When the Bush administration demanded the alleged mastermind Osama Bin Laden be delivered, the Taliban, explains Zaeef, opposed. “If every country were to hand over any person deemed a criminal by America,” he writes, “then America would de facto control the world.”

“Other solutions” were allegedly proposed, including a trial at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, but “the USA made it clear that they were willing to use force should Afghanistan not comply with its demands”.

It’s worth remembering that Washington never had any substantive issues before September 11 with the gross human rights abuses in the Islamic nation— issues basically ignored by Zaeef, including gender apartheid and public stonings—and “would drop all its other demands and formally recognise the Emirate if he [Bin Laden] were handed over”.

Zaeef’s internment at Guantanamo Bay makes painful reading. American soldiers stationed there are portrayed as
largely intolerant, scared and culturally clueless. Curiously, he is constantly asked about the presence of natural minerals in Afghanistan, including uranium and gold.

Despite years of imprisonment, Zaeef retains strongly Islamist leanings and deeply opposes the American occupation of his country. He chastises the Obama administration (and therefore Australia and other allies) for relying “solely on force and even the so-called peace talks are accompanied by threats”.

Although Zaeef hardly represents a liberal face of the war-torn country, his observations about Afghanistan provide a salutary lesson for readers who view the nation as incapable of rising above its tribal afflictions. The Taliban have been brutal and most studies indicate a reluctance of Afghans to return to their rule. But US-backed warlords currently control large swathes of the state, dishing out Taliban-style fear and retribution.

“Foreign troops [are arriving] in great numbers trying to solve a problem they are part of,” Zaeef writes.

Antony Loewenstein is the author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution (MUP)

one comment ↪
  • paul walter

    Gets slippery, doesn't it?

    I guess the people at the top with US intelligence these days cut their teeth on Vietnam: so many sly old tricks…

    You'd smile if it wasn't so grim.

    As long as the Americans are going to predicate their weltanschuang on a technological advantage in computers and defence, they stay a powerful even if now declining, force.  History seems to demonstrate their system encompasses theoretical and practical approaches to appropriation and commodification of war itself, as a kind of perpetual motion machine driven by a Westernised elite globally, but ultimately anchored in the USA.