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 US occupation looks like on the ground

My following lead book review appeared in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald:


Paul McGeough

Allen & Unwin, $32.99

This unblinking collection of dispatches separates the rhetoric from the reality of the post-September 11 battlefields.

The new US Defence Secretary and former CIA director, Leon Panetta, recently told journalists the Obama administration was ”within reach” of ”strategically defeating” al-Qaeda but would still need to kill or capture the group’s 10 to 20 remaining leaders.

It was a comment worth considering seriously. The US has hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, special forces in countless countries, drone attacks over at least six nations including Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, and military threats against many others, such as Iran. Yet the highest level of the US government now tells us there are only a handful of ”terrorists” who must destroyed.

Welcome to the post-Septem- ber 11 reality.

Experienced foreign correspondent Paul McGeough has followed these stories from the beginning, having been in New York on that fateful September morning in 2001. ”The whole of Manhattan is enveloped in a ghostly cloud of dust,” he wrote on the day of the attack.

This book compiles a decade in the field of battle, witnessing US- and Israeli-led wars. As McGeough commented in March this year, ”those brave enough to make a prediction [soon after September 11] would not have expected the world’s pre-eminent military and economic power to be the somewhat diminished world force that it is today”.

Imperial hubris has left Washington with an identity crisis that Barack Obama has only accelerated. The first US African-American president has, in fact, prosecuted whistleblowers more than any other leader in the country’s history and expanded covert actions around the world in the name of ”fighting terrorism”. It has made the US more insecure and close to bankruptcy.

Reading this fascinating collection of McGeough’s dispatches reminds us the past decade has been filled with spurious claims of spreading democracy, torturing in the name of security and backing Zionism in the misguided belief that occupying Israel is a reliable ally. McGeough bravely tackles all these myths.

McGeough documents the flailing war in Afghanistan and the delusional assessments offered by the Americans. In January 2005, he shows the official view of Washington towards the country: ”The US military – doing great. New democratic institutions – getting off the ground. First presidential election – planning well under way. Women’s rights – good things happening there, too.”

McGeough comments on this assessment with a tongue-in-cheek observation that President George W. Bush might not succeed ”finding a sure democratic footing in central Asia”. Indeed.

But this is journalism without glitz or cynicism. Rather, observational reporting that allows locals under occupation to speak truths about their situation. In Oruzgan province, where the Gillard government says Australian forces are helping to build democracy, McGeough wryly notes a comment in 2009 from a diplomat in Kabul that reveals the empty rhetoric of war backers here.

”We are supporting organised crime [in Oruzgan] and the people don’t like it.”

Imperial arrogance about Iraq was little different. McGeough wrote in July 2003, before the horrifying civil war engulfed the country and claimed up to 1 million innocent lives, that ordinary Iraqis won’t forgive the US for not providing adequate electricity in the searing summer heat. Eight years later, the US-backed Maliki regime, running death squads to eliminate opponents, still can’t provide sufficient power for the population.

An Iraqi technician tells the journalist that, ”we are beholden to the United States for ridding us of Saddam but they just don’t understand us”.

The most contentious sections of this book might be on Israel and Palestine. The local Zionist community has accused McGeough for years of being too critical of Israeli actions. For them, only complete obedience to the Israeli government line is acceptable. But, if anything, he could be accused of being too kind to policies in Palestine deemed illegal by international law.

McGeough isn’t afraid to document the endorsement of suicide bombing that existed in Palestine many years ago – hearing the stories of young martyrs wanting to die for the cause is both heart-breaking and tragic – and yet he places this desperation in its proper context. ”Palestinian researchers say they are discovering a generation of young people who don’t see a future,” McGeough noted in 2002. The reason is never-ending Israeli colonisation.

By the time the author presented a speech to Sydney’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas in 2010 on ”Controlling the narrative in Israel and Palestine”, he says Zionist ”mythology” has created a monster: an occupation with no end that still demands global backing. Boycotts and sanctions against Israel are now commonplace and rightly growing. Although, sadly, McGeough hesitates to fully acknowledge the Zionist entitlement to land, he doesn’t shy away from stating the bleeding obvious: ”There is no peace process.” The outcome is indefinite apartheid.

The book closes fittingly with an assessment of this year’s Arab Spring, a thoroughly convincing rejection of al-Qaeda’s nihilistic ideology. McGeough urges the West to forget about ”stability” in the Middle East – former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak might have pleased the US and Israel but he tortured his people for three decades – and dismiss the hypocritical bleating of people such as Tony Blair and Hillary Clinton, who spent years supporting the autocrats.

Unlike so many writers who report on the Arab world, McGeough believes in the possibility of real democracy for the Muslim societies the West has long seen as little more than a reliable petrol pump.

one comment ↪
  • Marilyn

    As usual it was an excellent though depressing read.