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.

Rest easy, citizens, Serco rides to the rescue

Is there anything Serco can’t do with enough money? It’s the company that’s always in the right spot at the right time (helped, of course, by the fact that countless politicians on all sides believe in “efficiency”, aka cutting services).

The Guardian reports:

Privately employed engineers are being trained to detect “dirty bombs” so that they can replace striking Border Agency guards during next week’s day of action against public sector pension reforms.

Staff from the services giant Serco are to be employed at four major points of entry into the UK to operate “portals” – which detect radiation and nuclear material on vehicles – when thousands of union members are expected to take industrial action.

Unions say Serco employees cannot receive the necessary specialist training in such a short period and will leave the country vulnerable to attack. They also argue that Serco staff do not have powers of arrest and have not received training to check travel documents.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: “We have serious concerns about the private contractors’ ability to do the job, and the use of them to cover for striking staff. This latest revelation further underlines the sheer desperation of [the UK Border Agency] to paint a picture of business as usual when it’s obvious to everyone that’s not going to be the case.”

no comments – be the first ↪

Three examples of disaster capitalism in action

One (via Wired):

An obscure Pentagon office designed to curb the flow of illegal drugs has quietly evolved into a one-stop shop for private security contractors around the world, soliciting deals worth over $3 billion.

The sprawling contract, ostensibly designed to stop drug-funded terrorism, seeks security firms for missions like “train[ing] Azerbaijan Naval Commandos.” Other tasks include providing Black Hawk and Kiowa helicopter training “for crew members of the Mexican Secretariat of Public Security.” Still others involve building “anti-terrorism/force protection enhancements” for the Pakistani border force in the tribal areas abutting Afghanistan.

The Defense Department’s Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office has packed all these tasks and more inside a mega-contract for security firms. The office, known as CNTPO, is all but unknown, even to professional Pentagon watchers. It interprets its counternarcotics mandate very, very broadly, leaning heavily on its implied counterterrorism portfolio. And it’s responsible for one of the largest chunks of money provided to mercenaries in the entire federal government.

Two (via Democracy Now!):

American so-called “vulture investors,” including a top funder of the Republican Party, have demanded African nations pay over half a billion dollars for old debts, for which investors paid only a few million. These so-called “vulture investors” attack desperately poor nations. That’s outlawed throughout most of the world, but not in the United States. Democracy Now! has joined an investigation begun by The guardian and BBC Television targeting one New York vulture speculator who’s attacked the Democratic Republic of Congo, demanding $100 million. Is he collecting a legitimate debt from Congo or is the vulture claims based on a stolen security, criminally transferred to an American financier known after the James Bond film as “Goldfinger.” Greg Palast reports from the Congo, Bosnia and New York.

Three (via Foreign Policy):

When people read a news website, they don’t usually imagine that it is being run by a major producer of fighter jets and smart bombs. But when the Pentagon has its own vision of America’s foreign policy, and the funds to promote it, it can put a $23 billion defense contractor in a unique position to report on the war on terror.

Over the past three years, a subdivision of Virginia-based General Dynamics has set up and run a network of eight “influence websites” funded by the Defense Department with more than $120 million in taxpayer money. The sites, collectively known as the Trans Regional Web Initiative (TRWI) and operated by General Dynamics Information Technology, focus on geographic areas under the purview of various U.S. combatant commands, including U.S. Central Command. In its coverage of Uzbekistan, a repressive dictatorship increasingly important to U.S. military goals in Afghanistan, a TRWI website called Central Asia Online has shown a disturbing tendency to downplay the autocracy’s rights abuses and uncritically promote its claims of terrorist threats.

no comments – be the first ↪

We don’t live in a democracy, repeat after me

Spot on, argues Roger D. Hodge in Harpers:

The corruption of our institutions manifests itself in a variety of ways, but in none so dramatic as the imbalance of national wealth, which in recent decades has shattered records formerly set in the late 1920s. Although it is often claimed that the gap between rich and poor began decisively to widen in the late 1970s, as if to absolve Ronald Reagan for what his followers no doubt count as his primary accomplishment, the total share of income of the wealthiest 10 percent of American families was well within the postwar norm until 1982, when Reagan’s policies began a massive, decades-long transfer of national wealth to the rich. Under Bill Clinton, who shamelessly appropriated the Reaganite agenda, the transfer was even more dramatic, as the top 10 percent captured an ever growing share of national income. The trend continued under George W. Bush, and by 2007 the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans (families earning more than $109,630) were taking in 50 percent of the national income. In 1980 the top 1 percent of Americans received 10 percent of the national income; by 2007 the superrich (those with income above $398,900) had increased their share to 23.5 percent. The average increase in real income for the bottom 99 percent of American families between 1973 and 2006 was a mere 8.5 percent, whereas the richest 1 percent saw a 190 percent rise in real income.

Such a distortion of the nation’s balance of wealth did not come about by accident; it was the result of a long series of policy decisions—about industry and trade, taxation and military spending, by flesh-and-blood humans sitting in concrete-and-steel buildings—that were bought and paid for by the less than 1 percent of Americans who participate in our capitalist democracy by contributing at least $200 to political campaigns. Gross inequalities in wealth not only create a perverse feedback loop in which the interests of the wealthy and the centers of power in government recede ever further from those of the general public; such inequality also distorts the political psychology of voters. Some of the best recent empirical work in political science has shown that most Americans attempt to vote in accordance with their economic interests, rather than by the dictates of ephemeral antagonisms over God, gays, or guns. Unfortunately, economic
improvements for the vast majority of Americans over the past three decades have been so marginal that they are easily overshadowed by cynical manipulations of the political business cycle, the timing of economic expansions with election years, and by the strange fact that lower-income voters are more sensitive, in terms of voting behavior, to income growth among the wealthy than they are to their own economic well-being.

Since the early 1980s, the Democratic Party has largely abandoned its commitment to policies that serve the material interests of most Americans and has joined the Republican Party in a shameless competition for the patronage of large corporations and the superrich. Add to these complexities the proven power of campaign spending to influence election outcomes (Larry Bartels has calculated that each additional dollar spent per voter by a candidate increases the probability of a given undecided voter’s support by almost four percentage points), and it is easy to see that the average American has no hope of safeguarding his interests, whether they pertain to life, liberty, or happiness. We cast our empty ballots for one party; then, disgusted with the inevitable betrayals, pray for a redeemer from the opposing party to rescue us from politics and history, only to repeat the cycle once again. Meanwhile, most of our citizens are fully absorbed in their personal affairs, oblivious and largely ignorant of the details of politics and governance. We are so very far from the classical republican ideal of ruling and being ruled, of exercising political agency and participating in the life of our commonwealth, that, incapable of pursuing even narrow self-interest effectively, we instead offer ourselves up as impotent, obsequious subjects, the unresisting tools of interests we scarcely comprehend.

one comment ↪

State of journalism in Sri Lanka is dire

So much for being a democracy at the end of the civil war. This is what ongoing discrimination against free speech looks like. Andrew Buncombe reports for The Independent:

It is not simply dedication to his job that has led newspaper editor MV Kaanamyl-nathan to not leave his office for five-and-a-half years. In the spring of 2006, gunmen stormed into the building and sprayed automatic fire that killed two employees and left bullet holes in the walls and the table in the conference room that remain to this day.

Since then, two police officers have been assigned to permanent duty outside the building and Mr Kaanamylnathan and his wife have left their three-bedroom home in the city and moved into a small space next to the newsroom. “I don’t go out. The only exception is to go and see my doctor, a heart-specialist, once every three months,” Mr Kaanamylnathan said. “For that, I have to make to make special arrangements.

The plight of Mr Kaanamylnathan and his newspaper Uthayan, (Rising Sun in Tamil), where six members of staff have been killed in the past decade and many others attacked, threatened and harassed in incidents that continue today, is a frightening window into the world of journalism in Sri Lanka.

Campaigners say reporters and media employees here are among some of the most vulnerable in the world; at least 14 have been killed in recent years and many more forced into exile. Several others are missing and unaccounted for. Among the most high-profile of cases was that of Lasantha Wickramatunga, editor of the often-critical Sunday Leader, who was murdered in January 2009. Nobody has yet been charged with the killing.

no comments – be the first ↪

Arab world not fooled by real American agenda; Israel, Israel and Israel

The numbers prove it (via IPS):

Despite repeated expressions of support by President Barack Obama for democratic change during the “Arab Spring”, the United States remains widely distrusted in the region, according to a major new survey of public opinion in five Arab countries released here Monday.

Instead, Turkey is viewed as having played the “most constructive” role in the past year’s events and its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, emerged as the most admired leader by far in the region, according to the 2011 edition of the annual “Arab Public Opinion Survey” conducted by Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institution.

The survey, which was conducted during the last half of October, was based on detailed interviews of some 3,000 respondents from urban centres in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It also included Saudi Arabia, the results from which, however, arrived too late to be weighted with the other five countries.

“Turkey is the biggest winner of the Arab Awakening,” said Telhami, who noted that, despite increasing disillusionment with Obama’s performance on Israel-Palestinian issues, the U.S. president himself appears to have gained some ground in Arab public opinion since the summer of 2010 when the last survey was conducted.

Nonetheless, most Arabs, according to the new poll, continue to believe that Washington’s policies in the Middle East are mainly driven by its desire to control oil and protect Israel from its Arab neighbours. Only five percent said they believe the U.S. is driven by the desire to spread human rights or democracy.

no comments – be the first ↪

Why the Northern Territory intervention is morally devious

one comment ↪

PNG welcomes Israel into its beating bosom

This is how Israel builds its soft power. As civilised peoples increasingly recognise the Jewish state as a racially discriminatory anachronism from a different age, Zionism must cultivate backing from smaller, more desperate nations keen for infrastructure and cash. Hello Papua New Guinea:

The people of Hela and the Israelis will work in partnership to develop a major hydro-electricity project [to cost] PGK300 million [US$136.9 million] using the mighty Hewaii Falls of Tagali river in Tari.

Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru announced this during an awareness visit on Tuesday to Hapono and Mapana villages near the Hewaii Falls in the Hayapuga local level government (LLG) area in Tari District.

To the applause of the huge crowd that had gathered for the occasion, Governor Agiru said he would lead a delegation to Jerusalem in Israel on Christmas Eve this year to sign the agreement between the government and people of Israel and Hela for this major hydro-electricity project. Governor Agiru said the Hewaii Falls hydro plant would be constructed over a period of six years and would provide power just like the Yonki hydro plant in Eastern Highlands Province. Governor Agiru said landowners would also have ‘equity’ in this hydro-electricity project just like the landowners of the hydro carbon industries in the multi-billion kina PNG LNG project like Hides PDL1, Hides 4 PDL 7, Angore, Juha and Komo LNG international airport. He said the PNG LNG project has a lifespan of 30 years but the Hewaii Falls hydro project would be everlasting and is expected to bring in more benefits and developments to the landowners now and in their future. Governor Agiru who was accompanied by engineers, investors and officials from Israel and PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) to the occasion said pre-feasibility study work on the hydro project would start this week including identification of possible construction site before actual design and construction begins.

He said as a project of huge magnitude, it would take time. He has urged his people for patience as they embrace this huge development coming into their area which is also situated a few kilometres away from the Nogoli, Kobalu, Hides PDL 1 and Angore hydro carbon project areas. Governor Agiru urged his people to look after the engineers and experts who would come and develop their hydro-electricity project, adding that with this another major hydro-electricity project in Hela, he has created a “ridge and an everlasting relationship” between his Hela people and people of Israel, the “Biblical Promised Land”. He said apart from the hydro-project at Hewaii Falls, Israeli food technologists and investors have also signed agreements with the provincial government to develop three major agro-industrial centres (AIC) in the province at Hulia in Tari, Koroba and Tente in Mendi. Governor Agiru said with these AIC and factories, food, cash crops, vegetables, animals, livestock, poultry and all agricultural produce would be produced, processed and packaged for both commercial and domestic consumption. He said AIC would involve the development of barren and waste land in the province into plantations like the huge Hayapuga swamp in Tari and others while there will also be arrangement with landowners to work their own land and grow products and animal husbandry to supply to the AIC as food security project.

one comment ↪

Zionist fanatics embrace Glenn Beck, Mr. 1939 is here (again)

What has happened to my people? One of America’s most prominent Jewish groups – they embrace settlements, racism inside Israel and Palestine, no criticism of Zionism and never-ending occupation – brazenly invites former Murdoch favourite hack, Glenn Beck, to rally the troops and talk about preparing for the apocalypse.

Zionism 2011 (via JTA):

The Zionist Organization of America’s annual dinner is a place where conventional thinking about the liberal proclivities of American Jews goes to die. But never quite like Sunday night — when Tea Party darling and Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachman served as the opening act and Glenn Beck was swarmed like a rock star.

Beck, who was on hand to receive the ZOA’s Defender of Israel Award, made his way into the VIP reception at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan shortly after 5 p.m. and almost instantly was beset by a crush of admirers. He found himself wedged into a corner as a crowd of well-wishers surged forward to have their photographs taken with him. Bachmann and her fellow Republican congresswoman, Florida’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, were there, too — but it was clear who the star was.

“Love, love, love, love, love,” Ros-Lehtinen said, extending her hand to Beck, who responded by clasping hers in both of his. All around her, an expanding mass of people pressed in closer, seemingly eager to express the same sentiment.

“I need everyone to back up please,” a photographer practically yelled as he tried to create a cordon around the VIPs to set up his shot. But despite help from Beck’s two bodyguards, an assistant, and assorted publicists and ZOA personnel, the crowd kept pushing ahead.

Crowd control proved to be a recurring problem at the dinner. After the appetizer was served, seemingly half the room converged on Beck and his wife, Tania, tying up the traffic flow in the center of the ballroom and rendering the area impassable. A succession of ZOA officials implored the crowd to sit down so servers could get dinner on the table, but with little effect.

Grabbing the microphone, ZOA President Morton Klein, raised his voice — the first of several times he would do that over the course of the evening — and commanded those standing around to “sit down — NOW!”

“Glenn Beck got in touch with me, thanked me for writing this because no one else in the organized Jewish world was defending him, and he asked if we could get together,” Klein told JTA. “We got together, I asked him if he’d be our honoree, he began to almost cry. Tears welled up in his eyes.”

Asked about the discomfort some feel with Beck’s repeated use of Holocaust analogies, Klein, a child of survivors who was born in a German displaced persons camp, claimed ignorance, saying he didn’t watch Beck’s show often enough to have an opinion.

“I just don’t know,” he said.

That Beck, an unabashed crier, became misty at Klein’s offer is eminently believable. Beck appeared to choke back tears at least four times during his hourlong speech — and that was during his less emotional moments.

When he wasn’t battling the urge to cry, he was issuing a battle cry. With arms flailing wildly and face turning the color of the red caviar served in the VIP room, Beck portrayed the challenges facing Israel and the Jewish people in apocalyptic terms — as the ultimate showdown between good and evil. Beck was the only speaker at the dinner whose voice reached a pitch more feverish than Klein’s.

Beck said he came to the ZOA as a brother. “It’s personal,” he said repeatedly.

And clearly he has not been chastened by the urgings of some Jewish groups to tread lightly with the Holocaust analogies. Again and again he invoked them, saying the world stood on a precipice like the one it faced in 1939 — only this time it’s worse, as not only is the world ignoring rising evil, he said, it is actively helping it along.

“America is not a collective,” Beck thundered. “America is built on the individual. I am a man and I demand to be counted so others are not numbered again.”

The crowd went wild.

one comment ↪

Fox News endorses state violence against peaceful students

no comments – be the first ↪

Sy Hersh on MSM lies over Iranian nuclear “threat”

Will we ever learn?

no comments – be the first ↪

Serco, we have a problem

Yet more evidence that the British multinational Serco, running Australia’s detention centres, simply aren’t up to the task. But don’t expect the government to do anything about it any time soon. They need somebody, anybody, to take the blame for its dysfunctional refugee policies (via The Age):

The multinational company that runs Australia’s immigration detention network has been fined $15 million for failing in its duty of care to asylum seekers and underperformance .

The immigration department has told a federal parliamentary inquiry it had docked $14.8 million from monthly payments to SERCO between March 2010 and June 2011 because of poor management of the detention centres, and docked another $215,000 from SERCO’s contract to run immigration housing centres.

SERCO was paid $375 million to run immigration centres last year, and $101 million in the three months to October 2011.

The secretive contract the federal government signed with SERCO withholds payment for audited ”abatements” each month. Escapes, failure to secure perimeter fences, not providing activities or reporting major incidents, not giving access to visitors, interpreters or legal representatives, poor building conditions and food safety can trigger fee reductions.

The penalty is limited by the contract to 5 per cent of SERCO’s monthly fee. The $15 million fine, revealed in written submissions to the inquiry, is therefore near the upper limit of what the Immigration Department would have been contractually able to penalise SERCO in a period plagued by riots, fires, suicides and escalating detainee self harm.

no comments – be the first ↪

Lessons of Keystone XL for #Occupy

How to mobilise people power against corporate power is a key task of the 21st century, as disaster capitalists attempt to swarm around energy resources. Interesting piece by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker:

Last spring, months before Wall Street was Occupied, civil disobedience of the kind sweeping the Arab world was hard to imagine happening here. But at Middlebury College, in Vermont, Bill McKibben, a scholar-in-residence, was leading a class discussion about Taylor Branch’s trilogy on Martin Luther King, Jr., and he began to wonder if the tactics that had won the civil-rights battle could work in this country again. McKibben, who is an author and an environmental activist (and a former New Yorker staff writer), had been alarmed by a conversation he had had about the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline with James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and one of the country’s foremost climate scientists. If the pipeline was built, it would hasten the extraction of exceptionally dirty crude oil, using huge amounts of water and heat, from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, which would then be piped across the United States, where it would be refined and burned as fuel, releasing a vast new volume of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. “What would the effect be on the climate?” McKibben asked. Hansen replied, “Essentially, it’s game over for the planet.”

It seemed a moment when, literally, a line had to be drawn in the sand. Crossing it, environmentalists believed, meant entering a more perilous phase of “extreme energy.” The tar sands’ oil deposits may be a treasure trove second in value only to Saudi Arabia’s, and the pipeline, as McKibben saw it, posed a powerful test of America’s resolve to develop cleaner sources of energy, as Barack Obama had promised to do in the 2008 campaign.

McKibben concluded that the pipeline couldn’t be stopped by conventional political means. So, in June, he and ten other activists sent an open letter to the environmental community saying, “It’s time to stop letting corporate power make the most important decisions our planet faces. We don’t have the money to compete . . . but we do have our bodies.” Beginning in August, the letter said, volunteers would be needed to help provoke mass, nonviolent arrests at the White House. The activists called for civil disobedience, with the emphasis on the “civil”: “Come dressed as if for a business meeting—this is, in fact, serious business.” Waves of neatly outfitted people started showing up at the White House, and by the time the action ended, on September 2nd, more than a thousand had been arrested at the front gate for trespassing.

Still, the protesters didn’t feel that they were being taken seriously, so, as the last of them were being handcuffed and led away, McKibben met across the street with a senior White House official. He said that although the environmental movement had supported the President, wherever he went now demonstrators would be there, too. “We’re not going to do you the favor of attacking you,” he said. “We’re going to do the much more dangerous thing of saying we need to hear from the Obama who said those beautiful things in the campaign. We expect him to do what he promised.” In other words, where the Tea Party took inspiration from the Revolution, the anti-pipeline activists would draw from “Lysistrata”; instead of going to war against the President, they threatened to get out of bed with him unless he shaped up. Knowing that Obama wanted their support in 2012, they would attract his attention by playing hard to get.

no comments – be the first ↪