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.

Australia’s view of the world; suck Washington’s left toe hard

More invaluable insights into how diplomacy really works. Egos and bowing to the US and Israel. That’s quite a vision for world peace and security (and what’s a few thousand civilians killed by our cluster bombs?)

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is an abrasive, impulsive ”control freak” who presided over a series of foreign policy blunders during his time as prime minister, according to secret United States diplomatic cables.

The scathing assessment – detailed in messages sent by the US embassy in Canberra to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton over several years – are among hundreds of US State Department cables relating to Australia obtained by WikiLeaks and made available exclusively to The Age.

”Rudd … undoubtedly believes that with his intellect, his six years as a diplomat in the 1980s and his five years as shadow foreign minister, he has the background and the ability to direct Australia’s foreign policy. His performance so far, however, demonstrates that he does not have the staff or the experience to do the job properly,” the embassy bluntly observed in November 2009.

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The cables show how initially favourable American impressions of Mr Rudd, as ”a safe pair of hands”, were quickly replaced by sharp criticism of his micromanagement and mishandling of diplomacy as he focused on photo and media opportunities.

In a December 2008 review of the first year of the Rudd government, US ambassador Robert McCallum characterised its performance as ”generally competent” and noted Mr Rudd was ”focused on developing good relations with the incoming US administration [of President Barack Obama], and is eager to be seen as a major global player”.

Despite this, what were described as ”Rudd’s foreign policy mistakes” formed the centrepiece of the ambassador’s evaluation. Mr McCallum thought the prime minister’s diplomatic ”missteps” largely arose from his propensity to make ”snap announcements without consulting other countries or within the Australian government”.

According to the embassy, the government’s ”significant blunders” began when then foreign minister Stephen Smith announced in February 2008 that Australia would not support strategic dialogue between Australia, the US, Japan and India out of deference to China. ”This was done without advance consultation and at a joint press availability with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi,” Mr McCallum wrote.

Mr Rudd’s June 2008 speech announcing that he would push for the creation of an Asia-Pacific Community loosely based on the European Union was cited as a further example of a major initiative undertaken ”without advance consultation with either other countries (including South-East Asian nations, leading Singaporean officials to label the idea dead on arrival) or within the Australian government (including with his proposed special envoy to promote the concept, veteran diplomat Richard Woolcott)”.

Similarly Mr Rudd’s establishment of an international commission on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation was ”rolled out … during a photo-op heavy trip to Japan … His Japanese hosts were given insufficient advance notice and refused a request for a joint announcement”.

The US embassy noted that Mr Rudd did not consult any of the five nuclear weapons states on the United Nations Security Council and that Russia had lodged a formal protest. One of Mr Rudd’s staff gave the US embassy a few hours’ advance notice of the announcement ”but without details”.

The cables also refer to ”control freak” tendencies and ”persistent criticism from senior civil servants, journalists and parliamentarians that Rudd is a micro-manager obsessed with managing the media cycle rather than engaging in collaborative decision-making”.

Eleven months later, in November 2009, the embassy delivered another sharp assessment that Mr Rudd dominated foreign policy decision-making, ”leaving his foreign minister to perform mundane, ceremonial duties and relegating the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to a backwater”.

”Other foreign diplomats, in private conversations with us, have noted how much DFAT seemed to be out of the loop,” US Charge d’Affaires Dan Clune reported. ”The Israeli ambassador [Yuval Rotem] told us that senior DFAT officials are frank in asking him what PM Rudd is up to and admit that they are out of the loop.” Mr Clune added that morale within DFAT had ”plummeted, according to our contacts inside as well as outside the department”.

The embassy also assigned blame for DFAT’s decline to the weakness of Mr Smith, who was dismissed as being ”on vacation”.

”Surprised by his appointment as foreign minister, Smith has been very tentative in asserting himself within the government,” Mr Clune wrote. ”DFAT contacts lamented that Smith took a very legalistic approach to making decisions, demanding very detailed and time-consuming analysis by the department and using the quest for more information to defer making decisions.”

David Pearl, a Treasury official who served on Mr Smith’s staff in 2004, told American diplomats that the foreign minister was ”very smart, but intimidated both by the foreign policy issues themselves and the knowledge that PM Rudd is following them so closely”.

Former DFAT first assistant secretary for north Asia, Peter Baxter, lamented to embassy officers that ”Smith’s desire to avoid overruling DFAT recommendations meant that he often delayed decisions to the point that the PM’s office stepped in and took over”.

The US embassy further recounted that after Israel initiated its military offensive in Gaza in December 2008, Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem contacted Mr Smith at his home in Perth to ask for Australia’s public support. Despite the obvious diplomatic and political sensitivity of the issue, ”Rotem told [the embassy] that Smith’s response was that he was on vacation, and that the ambassador needed to contact deputy prime minister Gillard, who was acting prime minister and foreign minister at the time.”

Paradoxically, Mr Rudd’s determination to dominate the foreign policy agenda diminished the influence of his own department, with one DFAT assistant secretary explaining to the embassy that the foreign policy staff of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) were ”overwhelmed supporting Rudd’s foreign policy activities, particularly his travel, which has reduced its ability to push its own agenda”.

In concluding his assessment, Mr Clune suggested that Mr Rudd’s ”haphazard, overly secretive decision-making process” would continue to generate foreign policy problems.

Seven months later, Mr Rudd lost the prime ministership, but he remains very much in charge of Australia’s diplomacy.

3 comments ↪
  • Marilyn

    It

    's strange that anyone would take a word McCallum said serriously – if he wanted to talk about foreign policy blunders he should have had a chat with his mate Dubya.

  • MERC

    FYI: 'Just ask Rotem, he'll know' at http://middleeastrealitycheck.blogspot.com Middle East Reality Check

  • iResistDe4iAm

    Poor Kevin Rudd! 

     

    I don't know what's more humiliating for him — being backstabbed by his Deputy, or by the self-appointed Sheriff whose Deputy he's trying so hard to be?