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.

Serbia 1999 vs Libya 2011

Leading Australian academic Scott Burchill has some thoughts about Libya:

1. Military intervention like this can make the humanitarian crisis worse, as it did in Serbia in 1999. Milosevich’s attacks on Kosovars only escalated after NATO’s bombing campaign begun. So even though the West controls the skies over Libya, expect ground attacks by Gaddafi loyalists to intensify. Eg Misurata today.

2. Clinton had to bomb for 3 months before Milosevich gave up. Would Obama have the stomach for that? Would public opinion in the West? Whilst more Americans currently support the NFZ than oppose it, the figure is substantially below 50%.

3. NATO’s bombing campaign against Serbia did not produce regime change in Serbia. That happened later. Is there any example of an air campaign (alone) producing regime change?

4. Wars are unpredictable and rarely go to plan. Sometimes attacks like this galvanise nationalist opposition, something Gaddafi is trying to exploit.

5. Without Western “boots on the ground”, neither Gaddafi nor the rebels are likely to be able to defeat the other.This will probablyproduce a stalemate, followed by a partition and a protracted civil war. Most of Libya’s oil in the east where the rebels are trying to extend their reach.

6. Why no protection (or UNSC resolutions) for citizens currently being attacked by US allies in Bahrain and Yemen (to say nothing about Palestine)?

7. Obama was clever to let France and the UK take the lead, even though the Pentagon is directing the operation. He wants to minimise anti-Americanism in the Middle East and is already overstretched in Afghanistan. He is adamant there will be no US foot soldiers, as Clinton was in 1999. Better to have encouraged Turkey and Egypt to lead and to have told the UAE and Qatar to put heir money where their mouth was.

8. Who are the rebels we are supporting? What type of government would they install? Most seem to be former Gaddafi acolytes with no history of supporting democratic processes. This doesn’t bode well.

9. I think David Gardner in the Financial Times is right. Washington actually has very little interest in North Africa despite Libya’s oil. I think this partly explains Obama’s reluctance to get involved, limitWashington’s contribution, refuse to deploy troops and encourage Europeans to run the campaign. It is, however, desperately worried about the Gulf stateswhere it has vital strategic and commercial interests. It worries that Saleh’s successor in Yemen will not play ball in attacking Al Qaeda there (estimated at no more than 300). It worries about Bahrain, which plays host to the 5th fleet and what the Saudi’s will do there and possibly in Yemen. Despite the rhetoric, it knows that Iran has little if any leverage in either place. Washington is also concerned about Jordan, has no idea what is happening in Syria, and knows Israel is increasingly isolated (if that is possible). In other words, for Washington Libya is a sideshow.

UPDATE: Burchill has updated this piece and it’s published today on ABC Unleashed.

one comment ↪
  • An excellent summary, Scott, but I disagree on point 9.

    I agree there are many good reasons why Obama might be reluctant to pursue this particular war, but it is not necessarily a "sideshow" in White House strategic thinking. We have to see this more widely as part of an attempt for the US to start to reassert a rapidly weakened hegemony in the region. Systems of control mediated through friendly dictators, Israeli aggression and placement of troops and bases on the ground have not prevented Tunisia and Egypt falling to revolutionary movements. In Egypt especially, the largest Arab working class is flexing its muscles, threatening further clashes with the military rulers over time.

    Into this comes a more conventionally militarised civil war in a country where the regime has been less obviously a Western ally and the opposition includes many former regime figures (as you point out) who see offering themselves as US allies as a way to overcome Gaddafi. The possibility, then, is for using the war as a method of getting ahead of the Arab revolutions in order to rein them in. That's what the Americans call being on "the right side of history".

    Similarly, I think there is good evidence that Obama and co were much more proactive behind the scenes in securing the current war, but that their weakened position led to a desire to create a coalition where (a) they could appear to be part of a broad international humanitarian effort and (b) they could defray some of the financial costs of intervention.

    I agree the direct oil interests are a secondary issue here (otherwise perhaps Berlusconi would be leading the charge!), although they may figure a little higher for Cameron. Sarkozy's enthusiasm I'd say is strongly driven by France's humiliation over Tunisia. But of course oil is the central geopolitical strategic reason the West has spent so long developing its regional hegemony, so it has to be considered at that level.

    Like you I believe this is a high-risk venture. But modern (imperialist) capitalism is a system of competing nation states and there can never be a single, stable hegemonic power anywhere (certainly not the US). So maintaining systems of control often requires messy and bloody displays of power. It is why we on the Left who haven't lost our marbles (like the Greens seem to have on this issue) are right to oppose attempts like this by the US and the West to get back on top.