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 Wikileaks Gitmo files says about our Western “values”

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

The Wikileaks-released Guantanamo Bay files provide an invaluable insight into the mindset of the US and its allies since September 11.

An infrastructure of torture was implemented, a practice still defended by the US government today, to allegedly protect the homeland from future attack.

The result was hundreds of innocent men kidnapped and incarcerated without trial – a “legal and moral disaster”, according to The New York Times – and President Obama continues shielding torturers in the previous and current administrations. He has pledged to Look Forward and Not Back. The current President has merely extended the Bush administration’s indefinite detention regime for so-called terror suspects.

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald unleashed necessary fury about this reality:

The idea of trusting the government to imprison people for life based on secret, untested evidence never reviewed by a court should repel any decent or minimally rational person, but these newly released files demonstrate how warped is this indefinite detention policy specifically.

Yet this authoritarian impulse to believe untested claims by the US government is exactly what many in the media have been doing for years, repeating without question deliberately leaked intelligence files on the “worst of the worst” prisoners.

One local example is The Australian columnist Chris Kenny, failed Liberal politician and former chief of staff to former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. During a Twitter conversation on Wednesday with Paul Barrett, a former Secretary of Australian Departments of Defence and Primary Industries & Energy, Kenny wrote, “You’re arguing to set free people who have murdered thousands” when Barrett asked why the US refused to conduct fair and open trials for individuals who had never faced justice.

In Kenny’s worldview, the American military has smeared hundreds of Muslims as terrorists and that’s good enough for him. The fact that the Wikileaks file shows the vast majority of Guantanamo Bay detainees had no connection to September 11 or terrorism can be ignored.

This has been the default position of the vast bulk of the corporate press since 9/11. In Australia, especially the Murdoch press has smeared former Guantanamo Bay inmates David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib. This continued with Downer who called both men “terrible, terrible people”, perhaps because he fears what an independent investigation may find in regards to his own government’s alleged complicity in their long incarceration.

Australian journalist Sally Neighbour published an analysis a few days ago that inadvertently undermined her own paper’s years of misleading reporting:

The dossiers on Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks reveal the so-called evidence used to justify their incarceration to be a confused mishmash replete with glaring factual errors and inconsistencies, principally based on self-incrimination that would not be admitted in a proper court of law and tainted by the inclusion of information obtained under torture.

What Neighbour conveniently omitted from her report were the journalists and editors who have dined for years on rehashing US government released propaganda against Hicks and Habib, including The Australian, and smearing them constantly. Clearly media accountability was not on the agenda for a decade of establishment stenography. Today’s Australian editorial begrudgingly acknowledges the torture suffered by Habib and Hicks but issues no apology for spending years accusing them both of terrorism.

Thankfully this week’s Sydney Morning Herald editorially called the treatment of Hicks and Habib by its rightful name, torture.

It took one of the world’s more diligent and un-embedded journalists on Guantanamo Bay inmates, Andy Worthington, to unpack the Wikileaks revelations and highlight the decade of ignoring legal precedent for the Cuban and American black hole down which countless men were tortured and housed.

Reading Worthington’s copious work over the years makes a reader wonder why more mainstream reporters didn’t investigate the prison camp with a very critical eye. Is it because, as a former Bush official said, too many US journalists wanted to be seen as “patriotic” and protect America’s “interests”. Truth came a distant third. Guantanamo Bay was a place where psychological experiments and torture was common-place.

But what of the latest Wikileaks revelations themselves which, for the record, should be seen as merely US official opinion rather than actual factual reporting? We learn that the US allowed a number of repressive country’s intelligence services access to Guantanamo Bay detainees, including officials from China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

This highly prejudicial process was also committed by Australia during the Howard government when it emerged in 2005 that Chinese officials were allowed to interrogate Chinese asylum seekers in Sydney’s Villawood detention centre.

In the years after 9/11 (and also before), America was kidnapping terror suspects and sending them through extraordinary rendition to authoritarian states where these prisoners would be tortured for information. The latest Guantanamo Bay files confirm that Washington was also asking repressive regimes to assist them in identifying people as well as probably threatening their families back home.

The Wikileaks files detail America’s treatment of Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj who languished without charge for six years in Guantanamo Bay. It can now be confirmed that he was only held in the prison camp because the Bush administration hated the Qatar-based news network and wanted to gain more information about its alleged connection to terrorism. It is a chilling warning to media companies the world over.

The response of the Obama administration to the latest document dump was typically Orwellian. The lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay were told, even after the mainstream press had widely disseminated the Wikileaks documents, that the files remained legally classified. The New York Times perfectly highlighted the issue:

Joseph Margulies, a Northwestern law professor who represents Abu Zubaydah, the detainee accused of being a terrorist facilitator who was waterboarded by the Central Intelligence Agency, said he could not comment on the newly disclosed assessment of his client, which is posted on The Times Web site.“Everyone else can talk about it,” Mr. Margulies said. “I can’t talk about it.”

Although Wikileaks itself was not a major focus of this release (only briefly, anyway), it again proved the power of the whistle-blowing website. Western news organisations were forced to collaborate with an organisation with a relatively small staff and budget. The obvious question remains; why didn’t The New York Times, The Washington Post or The Guardian receive the scoop with their own investigations?

If former US army soldier Bradley Manning was the leaker of this information – President Obama has already said Manning is guilty, undoubtedly affecting any potential trial – he has given the world an invaluable insight into a superpower’s tyranny; he is a patriot in the truest sense of the word.

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

one comment ↪
  • Brilliant well researched article. Thank you

    Very happy these truths are coming out now.  A small measure of justice for those who languished in those hellholes on Gitmo without charge.