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.

Hypocrisy trumps policy in Western alliance with Libya

My following article appears today on ABC’s The Drum:

The latest BBC interview with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, situated in a fancy restaurant on the Mediterranean, was painful to watch. Clearly delusional and blaming drug-addled youth and al-Qaeda for the ongoing revolution in his country (which he claimed he didn’t lead, the “masses” were in charge), the Western media have labelled him “mad” and “dangerous to know”.

This is not a defence of Gaddafi or the countless crimes against his own people or outsiders. He should be held to account for all violations of international law. The crimes are multiple and must be punished.

Events in Libya are moving fast and I won’t try to cover all the latest developments here. Al-Jazeera English’s daily Libya blog is one of the best places to read all the news.

But it’s remarkable to watch how quickly Western leaders and commentators, many of whom have celebrated the increasing ties between them and Gaddafi, are suddenly calling for his departure.

It was seemingly only yesterday that a newfound, supposedly reliable ally in the “war on terror” had come in from the cold, rejected terrorism, ditched a nuclear program, given information about Pakistan’s covert nuclear program under AQ Khan and perhaps most importantly opened up Libya for Western businesses. The EU was only recently so keen to sell arms to Tripoli.

In the last years the West embraced Gaddafi and his children because he was the kind of dictator we could deal with. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has visited Libya a number of times as an employee of J.P. Morgan, who pays him millions of pounds annually, to push for banking opportunities.

Newly released documents indicate the Blair government wanted to provide weapons to Tripoli and train some of its military.

The current British government of David Cameron has at least acknowledged the moral bankruptcy of backing autocrats in the Middle East and not believing Arabs can rule themselves freely but his message was contradicted by travelling across the Middle East with arms dealers in tow to sell weapons to “democratic” Kuwait.

Why am I bringing all this sordid history up now? Because it shows the hypocrisy at the heart of Western political and media elites and how language is abused and selectively applied to the “good” and “evil”.

Gaddafi is clearly “mad” while western presidents or prime ministers, who have caused far worse carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Palestine, are still given respectful interviews in our media. It is inconceivable that an ABC or Murdoch journalist would openly call Tony Blair, Barack Obama, David Cameron or Nicholas Sarkozy a “war criminal”, even after they leave office. “We” are always better than “them”, a spurious democratic imprimatur that protects officialdom in our system. Killing literally hundreds of thousands of civilians – far in excess of anything Gaddafi could imagine – is ignored to maintain access to the powerful.

I’m reminded of the former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan in January. Aside from a few questions about the Iraq war, the two laughed about Condi’s piano playing. There was nothing about her authorising torture against terror suspects after 9/11 or the huge civilian death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Western commentators will show respect to a person such as Rice because she seems reasonable, calm and doesn’t dress in overly colourful garb like Gaddafi. This elaborate dance, an old tradition to protect a fellow powerful figure you’re likely to see at a cocktail party or media event in the weeks or month ahead, is what allows Rice to escape scrutiny, mockery or justice while somebody like Gaddafi is thrown to the wolves when he’s no longer useful. Piers Morgan is unlikely to catch him in Hollywood anytime soon.

This is despite the fact that she has unarguably caused far greater trauma to far more people than Gaddafi or Mubarak. Journalism all too often reflects and defends the government line because reporters inhabit a world where that is their only logical perspective.

As Salon’s Glenn Greenwald recently wrote:

“…’The American press’ generally and ‘senior American national security journalists’ in particular operate with a glaring, overwhelming bias that determines what they do and do not report:  namely, the desire to advance U.S. interests… America’s “establishment media” is properly described as such precisely because their overarching objective is to promote and defend establishment interests in what they report to – and conceal from – their readers.”

When it comes to Libya, how many Western media services even irregularly published voices from inside the country – bloggers, dissidents etc – that questioned how ordinary Libyans felt about the ever-increasing Western largesse being showered on Tripoli? US foreign policy, post the 2003 Iraq war, dictated a friendlier face towards “mad dog” Gaddafi and many Western writers bought this spin and transmitted it to their readers and viewers (“Gaddafi has a terrible record but in a remarkable transformation has ditched his nuclear program and embraced Tony Blair…”).

While the situation on the ground in Libya is dire and the border with Tunisia, reports Robert Fisk from the scene, is a seething mass of bodies, it seems everybody is now an expert on Libya. Foreign military intervention is being openly discussed, despite many Libyans being openly opposed to it and The Los Angeles Times editorialising against imposing a no-fly zone.

It’s time to put Libya into some perspective. Gaddafi may be a brute and autocrat but this didn’t suddenly occur in the last weeks. Good journalism has a responsibility to treat its subjects equally, not to the whims of US foreign policy (and therefore Australian foreign policy). Unfortunately, too many in the West view our behaviour as central to any radical change in the world; independence is unimagined.

The New York Times Thomas Friedman wrote this week that the Arab revolutionaries were inspired by Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009. The “Arab” youth in his head said:

“Hmmm, let’s see. He’s young. I’m young. He’s dark-skinned. I’m dark-skinned. His middle name is Hussein. My name is Hussein. His grandfather is a Muslim. My grandfather is a Muslim. He is president of the United States. And I’m an unemployed young Arab with no vote and no voice in my future.”

Even though he was in Cairo during the uprising against Mubarak, Friedman clearly missed the deep anger at Washington’s funding and backing of the Egyptian dictator. Friedman is a “serious” writer, regularly re-published in the Fairfax press here, who argued Israel, the Beijing Olympics, Google Earth and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad were the main causes of the Arab protests. Seriously.

Finally, some ground rules for decent journalism in the Middle East in the midst of the new Arab world:

1)     Not every story is about Israel and its “security” (do Palestinians not have security concerns, too?). Base yourself somewhere other than Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Try the West Bank, Beirut, Cairo or Tunis.

2)     “Moderate” Arab regimes are anything but so don’t simply repeat State Department lines about “stability” in the region.

3)     Libya’s Gaddafi is a delusional thug but he’s an easy target. So is Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Don’t ignore such regimes but remember our own responsibility for backing Arab autocrats in the name of “stability”.

4)     Locate and cultivate local sources in multiple countries that send reliable information, therefore reducing the need to send in white correspondents for a few days, with no real knowledge of a nation, on the frontline of a battle they don’t really understand.

5)     Don’t fear everybody who talks about Islamic democracy or democracy with an Islamic hue.

6)     Don’t continually quote or interview Western officials who have spent a lifetime implementing failed and Israel-centric policies in the Middle East and frame them as “experts”. I’m talking about people such as neo-conservative, former George W Bush official and Barack Obama adviser Elliot Abrams and former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk. Their time has past. Move on.

Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution

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