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.

My evidence at the Senate committee on Australia’s overseas development programs in Afghanistan

On 4 December I gave testimony in Parliament House in Canberra at a Senate committee on Australia’s role and responsibilities in Afghanistan after the vast bulk of Western forces leave in 2014. I submitted a short statement to the committee back in September and was then invited to travel to Canberra for a more thorough discussion (full transcript coming soon.)

Here’s my opening statement with links added for context: 

I would like to thank the committee for inviting me to give evidence here today. As an independent journalist and author who visited Afghanistan this year to investigate privatised military and intelligence and the role of aid and NGOs in helping or hindering the people, I appreciate this opportunity to share my thoughts on how Australia could improve its standing in Afghanistan after the bulk of Western forces leave in 2014.

Afghanistan has been broken and exploited for more than 30 years and the decade since 2001 has been no different. When America and its allies, including Australia, invaded in October of that year, there was no concrete plan to improve the lives of its citizens. Almost immediately, the West empowered, funded and trained the worst warlords who had caused the chaos in the last decades. We backed President Hamid Karzai, a corrupt leader with no legitimacy who runs a thugocracy.

This shouldn’t disguise the fact that many Taliban are equally brutish, attacking civilians and NGOs. They are currently self-financing through taxes on poppy farming, kidnappings and extortion. Notwithstanding, they may be the only reliable force after 2014 capable of expelling foreign jihadis.

Australia’s record, still largely untold, is not a pretty one, endorsing extreme violence, some undertaken by our own special forces, brutal night-raids and partnering with warlord Matiullah Khan, a man with a shocking record of criminality and running the drug trade in southern Afghanistan. Wikileaks documents confirm this.

We have ignored history, in our collusion with rogue regimes and elements in Latin America in the 1980s and Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s, that leads us once again to partner with individuals and groups that guarantee blow-back, increased terrorism in the West and resistance.

The reality on the ground, away from embedded journalists, is a dirty war that involves Afghan militias and mercenaries, working with US special forces, to rout the Taliban in a futile effort to eradicate an indigenous part of Afghanistan.

This is a reality I saw in Afghanistan. The people, according to recently released polling by Democracy International for USAID, remain “broadly dissatisfied with the way formal democracy works and expressed a lack of confidence in formal elected institutions, including the  national  assembly and the president.” Just nine percent said they were very satisfied with the way democracy works.

This is our legacy in Afghanistan and aid delivery is intimately tied up with these dismal results.

The American and Australian imperial project in Afghanistan has failed. Accepting this is vital before proscribing the solution. Pakistan, an unreliable ally for years, will be central to brokering any peace treaty between the Americans and the Taliban. We can no longer heed the delusions of people like Karl Eikenberry, the former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, who wrote in the Financial Times recently that progress was “tangible”.

What’s needed is a focus on the Afghan people. One country that’s heavily invested in the future is Norway. It’s currently discussing how to contribute in a non-military way while continuing to provide aid. A recent report by the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre noted that since 2005 Norway “took a principled approach to separate military and development activities”. I would encourage Australia to move in the same direction, reducing the Afghan perception that we’re little more than defenders of the Karzai clique.

One of the key justifications for the NATO-led war in Afghanistan was helping women. This was always based on a deception because the West, according to another report by the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre in 2012, talked about empowering women but “high profile commitments to funding for women’s rights have been occurring in parallel with other policies that have undermined the very institutions and conditions on which such gains depend, such as a formal justice system, a functioning parliament and a non-militarised political landscape.”

Australia has fallen into the same trap, blindly following an American strategy that prioritises counter-insurgency at the expense of building Afghan-run civil groups.

Independent aid delivery is the only way Afghans will respect the donor and the aid. Instead, we’ve seen the West far too often utilise for-profit and armed firms to damage the process.

The exact number of foreign troops that will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 is unclear though the Obama administration is keen for a residual force to continue counter-terrorism activity. The number could be anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 with a host of private contractors and mercenaries, largely unaccountable. Washington is keen to avoid the situation in Iraq today where a newly independent nation largely ignores the demands of America and pursues its own path despite the daily violence that still plagues the state.

A key demand of the government in Baghdad, and Australia should offer this to both Iraq and Afghanistan, is reparations for the destruction caused by our presence and occupation. It’s the least we can do. Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s statement to Parliament in October this year mentioned none of this and instead offered platitudes, dishonestly stating that Australian troops have “kept us safer from terrorism”. The opposite is true and officials and elected politicians should be honest enough to admit the long-term effect of occupying a Muslim nation.

As a journalist who has visited some of the most troubled places in the world, including Papua New Guinea, Haiti and Palestine, a key lesson for governments and aid groups is avoiding the NGO-isation of a troubled land.

One organisation that has attempted to navigate the tough line between aid and independence is Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF). They refuse to play the game set by foreign forces, namely implementing nation-building projects demanded by Afghans and the US. It is unavoidable to deal with the Taliban in some parts of the country and it’s our responsibility to institute policies that accept this reality and find the least compromised way to do it.

Michiel Hofman, a former MSF country representative in Afghanistan, has written that NGOs have a choice when delivering aid. He argues:

“MSF has been able to carve out operational space in Afghanistan through regular, direct, and transparent negotiations with all the warring parties and though complete financial independence from Western and Afghan government sources. We also enforce a strict no-weapons policy in medical facilities. Our independence and purely needs-based approach to providing aid is enabling the possible expansion of operations into other war-wracked parts of the country…While other groups lament the lack of ‘humanitarian space,’ we see it opening by maintaining our independence and dedication to helping Afghans, without an agenda.”

Australia and the West can’t blame the Afghans for failing to nation build while they’ve been working themselves with a corrupt and inefficient central government. Far less money should be funneled through Kabul officials. Our mandate has been to build local forces and infrastructure but the gains have been minimal and fleeting. The West is doing harm with its current policies. We aren’t neutral and therefore paying the price for siding with a bankrupt Karzai regime. Even when Australia commissions independent assessment of its mission in Oruzgan province, undertaken by the respected NGO The Liaison Office based in Kabul, AusAid dismissed the findings this year because they were too pessimistic.

Undoing the mess Australia and its Western allies have created in Afghanistan will take time but acknowledging past mistakes and crimes is an important start. Afghans will need aid after 2014 but not if it’s delivered alongside the barrel of a gun.