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.

America’s drone war is both counter-productive and brutal

My following article appears in Lebanon’s Al Akhbar:

America’s drone war has countless silent victims. Since President Barack Obama massively expanded his reliance on the weapon from 2009, the number of civilians killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen have sky-rocketed, but we rarely hear about these murders.

The Western corporate media is content rehashing White House press releases about “militants” and “terrorists” being extinguished. Chris Wood, an award-winning reporter with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, recently told Democracy Now! that support for al-Qaeda is rising in the countries hit by Washington’s drones. It’s something Iraqi-born journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad confirmed first-hand when reporting from the Arabian Peninsula.

The New York Times disclosure of Obama’s “kill list” merely heightened concerns over policy transparency. The US President is judge, jury and executioner over the individuals who are killed, allegedly as terrorists. But serious questions remain, not least the revelation that civilians are guilty unless proven innocent. The Times wrote:

“Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top al-Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. “Al-Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization — innocent neighbours don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,” said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.”

It is an Orwellian understanding of international law and a clear continuation of the Bush administration’s global “war on terrorism” after September 11. Obama has merely extended executive power to its outer reaches. Obama has killed far more civilians by drone attacks than Bush did in his eight years in office.

Independent American journalist Jeremy Scahill caused faux outrage for suggesting on MSNBC that Washington’s “targeted” drone strikes in Yemen were “murder”. But he was right and said so because he’d been to the country and witnessed the reality:

“If you go to the village of Al-Majalah in Yemen, where I was, and you see the unexploded cluster-bombs and you have the list and photographic evidence, as I do – the women and children that represented the vast majority of the deaths in this first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen – those people were murdered by President Obama, on his orders, because there was believed to be someone from al-Qaeda in that area.There’s only one person that’s been identified that had any connection to al-Qaeda there. And 21 women and 14 children were killed in that strike and the US tried to cover it up, and say it was a Yemeni strike, and we know from the WikiLeaks cables that David Petraeus conspired with the president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing. It’s murder – it’s mass murder – when you say, ‘We are going to bomb this area’ because we believe a terrorist is there, and you know that women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe that women and children are there. I’m sorry, that’s murder.”

This indiscriminate killing is occurring in a number of war zones. During a recent reporting trip to Pakistan, I spoke to local journalists who confirmed the brutal nature of America’s drone war in the tribal region along the border Afghanistan.

Ihsan Tipu is a Pakistani New York Times employee. He’s from Waziristan, the heart of FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas]. Urbane and around 30-years-old, he and a journalistic colleague explained in detail what was really happening in this area.

He said that al-Qaeda remained strong and was growing. There were hundreds of recruits, including many from overseas training camps – he said at least 80 French Muslims were present – and they were then sent back for missions in the West.

“If you visit markets in Waziristan you will see many white, Western, Muslim men carrying AK-47s, from Germany, Britain and beyond,” Tipu told me. “You never make eye-contact with them, just look down and move on.”

The only time drones aren’t in the sky, he said, is during cloud cover but otherwise people are fearful the entire time that they will be hit. “After a drone strike, within a matter of 10 minutes, bodies are removed from the site by militants”, Tipu revealed.

America’s drone war was until recently in the realm of science fiction. But today, according to one of the finest reporters on its expansion, Nick Turse, the Terminator Age is upon us:

“At the turn of this century, the Department of Defense had 90 drones with plans to increase the inventory by 200 over the next decade, according to Dyke Weatherington, a Defense Department deputy director overseeing acquisitions of hardware for unmanned warfare. As 2012 began, there were more than 9,500 remotely piloted aircraft in the US arsenal.”

The last ten years have seen the mainstream media embrace the drone war as effective, silent and deadly. But in reality it is anything but, wilfully murdering civilians with barely a whimper from corporate reporters. How many more wedding parties in Pakistan need to be slaughtered before there are legal ramifications for drone “mistakes”?

The drone war isn’t just a political issue, it’s a media challenge. When virtually no Western reporters are able to get access to remote areas of Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, editors should acknowledge this. When “militants” are supposedly killed, press releases have replaced real, reported news. Having just spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and met a number of competent local journalists, it is beyond comprehension why Western news outlets don’t rely on such people to get first-hand accounts of the drone strikes.

The psychologically embedded mainstream news rarely questions the post 9/11 expansion of American military power. The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill revealed that the US Joint Special Operations Command have operated during the Obama administration in Iran, Georgia, Ukraine, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Peru, Yemen, Pakistan (including in Balochistan), the Philippines, Turkey, Belgium, France and Spain.

Such news disappears down the memory hole almost as soon as it’s published. The greatest irony of America’s drone and special-forces war is that Washington hasn’t become any more secure or confident of its place in the world. Its military budget still massively dwarfs every other country on the planet, but new technology has merely unveiled new spaces to colonize.

Despite Israel being the original masters of drone technology – new revelations outline Australian forces in Afghanistan relying on Israeli-owned drones to fight Taliban militants – other countries are developing their capabilities, such as Iran, China and even Australia.

If drone warfare is here to stay, accountability is essential. History teaches us to never trust the military or government to use weapons responsibly.

Antony Loewenstein in an independent journalist and author and co-editor of the forthcoming book with Ahmed Moor, After Zionism.

one comment ↪
  • examinator

    Antony,
    I agree that the indiscriminate use of drones is both unacceptable and even counter productive not to mention illegal in a third country. But since when did that stop any country from extra national murder ? ('assassinations' is for heads of state and today is a spin word).
    "Obama has killed far more civilians by drone attacks than Bush did in his eight years in office."Strewth" mate, talk about selective (purple) fact choice devoid of context! I have concerns with any journalist that uses such un-thought through, unprofessional emotively hysterical and meaningless language.
    Like Bush was responsible for killing less Citizens or maybe NATO in Libia.
    Do we talk about Dresden or maybe Hiroshima, Nagisaki,Vietnam.
    I agree dead is dead regardless of the means and as such is unacceptable but for goodness sake avoid the hysterics of the far right and keep commentary in context and proportion.
    in truth the two far more worrisome concerns is how the USA feels that it can act in such a unilateral way and that the president is above the law with his executionist's heavy hand. Have no fear old son as far as the rabid right are concerned drone murder is out of sight and far more acceptable in that their children aren't being used as cannon fodder. ('Elitist indifference' comes to mind.) The point here is where's the line ….if Assange is considered a significant threat is he or maybe if you expose too much are you immune from the "Prez's death list " ? In context drones are A MEANS not the problem.
    The real problem isn't only drones per se what make anyone thing that a right wing 'conservative' wouldn't engage in this extra judicial murder? In short how can we be sure that a replacement i.e. Romney wouldn't start a war?
    It almost goes without saying that the political or rather the consequential reasoning vacuum that is the rump of Americans believe that their is a free lunch in that there are no consequences to their inflammatory/ incendiary policies. They learned nothing from 911! (sad fools)