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.

The silent horrors of Sri Lanka still resonate

My following book review appears in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

An insider reveals the tortuous history of Sri Lanka’s conflict.

The United Nations recently released a report into war crimes committed in Sri Lanka in the final stages of that country’s brutal civil war between the Tamil Tigers and the Colombo regime that ended in May 2009. The results were devastating and detailed tens of thousands of Tamil civilians targeted by a rampaging government army and human shields held by Tiger rebels.

It was one of the worst massacres of the 21st century but remained largely a secret war, with journalists, human-rights workers and independent observers refused entry to the conflict zone.

The UN Human Rights Council issued only one resolution on Sri Lanka but a dozen against Israel’s war in Gaza a few months before.

The decline of American power and rise of an assertive China allowed Colombo far greater leeway to prosecute its own ”war on terror”. This is a victory that is today celebrated and taught by the island’s leaders to other countries looking to liquidate an enemy within; brutality and illegal methods are not impediments to the lessons.

A former UN spokesman in Colombo, Gordon Weiss, told ABC TV’s Lateline in April that the UN was undeniably partly responsible for not speaking out more forcefully against the violence during the conflict. He left the position ”because I felt that the government had successfully captured the narrative of what happened in this war and that what was missing was an alternative narrative; and I set about writing this book”.

The resultant work is a compelling examination of the island’s tortuous history and deeply ingrained racial discrimination. Weiss writes as an involved insider but holds no brief for either side of the decades-long war. He writes with passion and a depth of knowledge that does not shy away from describing the ”government death squads and ‘disappearances’ [that] had become a feature of public life”.

He sympathetically explains why a separate Tamil homeland was an almost necessary feature of life for a minority who were routinely discriminated against, could not use their own language in professional life and suffered the indignities of a Colombo-led occupation of their land. Although Weiss is not overcritical in the book of his former employer, he encourages a deeper understanding of humanitarian assistance in the modern age.

He likens the UN to a ”fractious parent/teacher meeting” and a body ”hamstrung by the interests of some of its most powerful members”. He quotes others to condemn the UN – head of the International Crisis Group Louise Arbour said in 2010 that the UN’s soft response ”verged on complicity” and the UN itself has subsequently acknowledged a muted position due to threats from the Sri Lankan authorities.

WikiLeaks cables confirm the US government was aware of the intensity of the fighting in the final months of the war but there was no push by the UN Security Council to warn Sri Lanka. It was a classic case of realpolitik; Sri Lanka holds only strategic importance and no major natural resources. NATO would not target Libya if lettuce was the country’s major export.

Weiss’s conclusion is a grim prognosis for Sri Lanka, a nation increasingly divided along ethnic lines. He sees the country ”sliding into tyranny”. Many Western nations, including Australia, have remained shamefully silent in the face of ongoing gross abuses, all in the name of favourable trade deals and withholding refugees before they can come to our shores.

The Cage is a courageous document that holds to account the brutality of a rogue state that is all too often simply seen as a beautiful tourist destination.

THE CAGE

Gordon Weiss

Picador, 352pp, $34.99

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