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.

TRT World interview on police raids against Australian media

This week in Australia there were major police raids on the home of a prominent journalist and the public broadcaster, the ABC. It’s a worrying sign and part of a global trend against a free press and sources who provide vital information.

I was interviewed by global broadcaster TRT World about the raids:

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US radio interview on my forthcoming drug war book

I was recently interviewed by US radio program, By Any Means Necessary, on my upcoming drug war book, Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs, and I gave a good overview of its political and journalistic reporting. My interview starts at 40:00:

Listen to “Regrettably the US Army asks ‘How Has Serving Impacted You?'” on Spreaker.

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My forthcoming book: Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs

After 4+ years of global investigation, my new book, Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs, will be released in September in Australia, November in the US and January in the UK. Translated editions will come later. It features my reporting from Honduras, Guinea-Bissau, the Philippines, the US, UK and Australia and investigates the reality of today’s drug war in the age of Trump. There’s also some hope, a rarity in my work, on how the situation could be better; the regulation and legalisation of all drugs.

It’s available for pre-order so please order one copy or ten (on the links above). Independent journalism will thank you and so will I.

More details soon about big endorsements, media and global events.

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Deep into the narco war; how Guinea-Bissau fits into the trade

Guinea-Bissau in West Africa is a key cocaine transit country between South America and Europe. I visited for my forthcoming book on the drug war, Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs.

The new podcast by Washington Post columnist and political scientist, Dr Brian Klass, is called Power Corrupts and one episode is about narcopolitics. It’s worth listening to the whole thing but my segment, talking about Guinea-Bissau, starts at 40:40.

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Stop just talking to ourselves part 854322

Back in 2017, I was commissioned by Germany’s Goethe Institute to write about the dangers of living in filter bubbles and finding ways to escape them. Berkeley University’s Greater Good department teaches and researches ways to build a more compassionate society. One of its fellows, journalist Zaid Jilani, wrote an essay on what happens when people with different political opinions learn to work together. I’m quoted here:

In 2017, Germany’s Goethe Institute commissioned the Jerusalem-based journalist Antony Loewenstein to discuss the problem of ideological silos. “Filter bubbles in the mainstream media are one of the most dangerous aspects of the modern age because they reinforce the least risky positions,” he says.

Loewenstein, who reports primarily about foreign affairs, says that some ways to prevent filter bubbles would be “widening the range of voices and publications that are heard in the mainstream” and greater “financial support to alternative news sources.”

Read the whole piece.

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How Extinction Rebellion gives hope on climate change action

Extinction Rebellion is a grassroots movement demanding radical (and necessary) action on climate change. The group, with activists around the world, is strongly challenging the political inertia around climate change and pushing back against individuals or companies (hello security firm, Pinkertons) aiming to make $ from the crisis (aka disaster capitalists).

I was interviewed about the movement on US radio station Loud and Clear this week.

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Christchurch massacre highlights dark ties between Australia and white supremacy

My article in US magazine The Nation:

It was an article with no subtlety, only bile. Australian columnist Andrew Bolt, one of the country’s most prominent right-wing voices and a key employee in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, published a column last August with the headline “The Foreign Invasion.” In it, he argued that “immigration is becoming colonisation, turning this country from a home into a hotel.” Bolt’s column was syndicated in many newspapers throughout Australia; accompanying it was a cartoon with racist caricatures of Asians, Muslims, and other new arrivals.

The racism was blunt, and Bolt’s facts were wildly incorrect—yet it was just one of many examples of the mainstreaming of hate that has become routine in Australia. In the wake of the recent horrific massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, where an Australian man killed at least 50 worshippers at two mosques and live-streamed his violence for the world to see, the increased tolerance for and encouragement of bigotry in the Australian media and in Parliament is finally receiving scrutiny. Examples of such bigotry abound: Prominent TV personalities call for an end to Muslim immigration; a political cartoonist at a Murdoch-owned paper draws tennis star Serena Williams with ape-like features; and the nation has become a regular haunt for some of the United States’ most notorious alt-right figures, who tour and spew bile at the indigenous population. But while white supremacy has been a major strain in Australia’s long history (as well as anti-Muslim hate in more recent years), US-style far-right violent extremism is still relatively rare.

A lack of racial diversity in the media and among political elites goes a long way toward explaining the blinding whiteness of supposedly acceptable commentary on public affairs in Australia. One 2017 study found that “racist reporting is a weekly phenomenon in Australia’s mainstream media,” with hatred commonly directed at immigrants, Muslims, refugees, indigenous Australians, and other minorities.

It’s a model that has been perfected by Murdoch’s Fox News, although other media companies take part too, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the public broadcaster that is the country’s equivalent of the BBC. The racial divide is also reflected in public opinion; in a documentary on free speech that he’s currently putting together, the Pakistani-Australian comedian Sami Shah tweets, almost “every white person interviewed…said their biggest fears were Political Correctness or identity politics. Every poc [person of color] said it was rise of Nazis and hate speech leading to attacks.”

The poison is not just in the media; the far right has also infiltrated one of the country’s major political parties. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has long believed in capitalizing on the electorate’s growing unease over Muslim immigration, and the Senate narrowly voted down a motion last year that said it was “OK to be white” (a meme popularized on 4chan and embraced by the white-nationalist movement). Australian Senator Fraser Anning, who once called for a “final solution” to immigration, said after the attack in Christchurch that “the real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.” According to reporter Paul Sakkal of The Age, Anning, who is close to forming a new political party, says, “We can win seats on social media.”

Yet despite the daily media drumbeat that blames immigrants for crime, the facts prove otherwise: Australian-born citizens are by far the highest number of offenders.

The strain of white supremacy that made the Christchurch attack possible has very deep roots. Australia is a settler-colonial state, and, like other cases of settler colonialism, from Israel-Palestine to the United States, its past is bloody. The vast bulk of the country’s indigenous population was murdered by the invading British after they arrived in the late 1700s. It’s an ugly reality that to this day is still denied by many and defended by others.

Indeed, just recently, a small but vocal political party in the Australian state of New South Wales proposed requiring DNA testing for Aboriginal people who want to claim welfare payments. Much of the media lapped it up, willfully ignoring the scientific challenges of such a test, let alone its racist underpinnings. Indigenous incarceration in some Australian states is higher per capita than it was in apartheid South Africa.

But while the prevalence of racism in Australia unquestionably influenced Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch killer, his ideology was largely borrowed from white-nationalist websites, theorists, and politicians around the world. Tarrant name-checked Donald Trump as an inspiration, as well as Norwegian extremist Anders Breivik, who massacred 77 people in 2011. Tarrant’s manifesto was titled “The Great Replacement,” most likely a reference to a 2012 book of the same name by French extremist Renaud Camus, who claims that Europe’s white population is being replaced by African and Muslim immigrants.

Revulsion over the Christchurch massacre was widespread in Australia, but I remain unconvinced that the country’s major media companies have any real interest in taking responsibility for their platforming of hate. It will be much easier to shed faux tears and then quickly get back to demanding that Australian Muslims show loyalty to their country (after the Christchurch killings, Murdoch tabloids found a way to try to humanize the murderer). Conservative media and their political mates have fanned the flames of racism for years, so don’t expect them to become self-reflective now. Eradicating this poison will require a sustained grassroots effort.

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Israeli leader Netanyahu isn’t the main problem

My article in US outlet Forward:

On Wednesday, it was reported that in the midst of a tense election cycle, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed the right-wing Jewish Home Party to join with the Jewish Power Party, which is populated by followers of the racist, banned leader Meir Kahane.

So important was this merger to Netanyahu that he cancelled a planned visit to Moscow this week to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. Netanyahu leads the most extreme, right-wing coalition in the country’s history. The Jewish state’s occupation over the West Bank and Gaza is now permanent, imprisoning millions of Palestinians under military rule.

But despite all this — even despite inviting avowed racists into the governing coalition — Netanyahu isn’t really the main problem. Nor will removing him from office, through indictment over multiple corruption cases or a loss at the polls in April, do much to alter the political alignment of Israel’s power elite.

For the truth is, all the major candidates for Israeli Prime Minister support an indefinite continuation of the occupation. That’s the greater scandal that barely receives any press in the West or Israel.

Netanyahu is a symptom of Israel’s right-wing drift, not its primary cause.

Netanyahu’s loudest critics seem to believe that the crimes he’s accused of, like the relatively minor corruption of receiving gifts from millionaires, are the worst sins a leader can commit. They go on at length about how serious his alleged crimes are, and the consequences they’d like to see.

To be sure, it’s hard to ignore the reality that Israel remains one of the more corrupt nations in the developed world. But these are not Netanyahu’s greatest crimes by a long shot.

Netanyahu’s greatest hits include entrenching the occupation around Palestinian villages, building a new “apartheid road” in the West Bank, killing unarmed Palestinian protestors in Gaza and demonizing African refugees. These have all been far more damaging than the bottles of Champagne he’s accused of accepting. And yet, corruption is the issue that may bring Netanyahu down.

Netanyahu has other flaws, too. He’s perfected the art of selling Israeli military expertise, turning over fifty years of occupation into a lucrative, global business of intelligence and surveillance equipment.

The walls and fences he’s built around unwanted populations has been warmly received by US President Donald Trump, the European far-right and white nationalists who admire the Jewish state’s creation of an ethno-state.

Even worse, Netanyahu doesn’t mind anti-Semitism if it’s expressed by his allies; opposing Islam and Muslim refugees but supporting the Israeli occupation are enough to get him on board, a short-term kind of thinking that endangers Jews everywhere.

Still, despite all these flaws, American Jews, who are increasingly disillusioned with Israel and its leadership, should look closely at who may replace Netanyahu.

What they’ll find is tribalism and anti-Palestinian racism has become extraordinarily mainstream in the Jewish state.

A 2016 poll in Israel found that nearly half of Jewish citizens wouldn’t live in the same apartment block as Arabs. A 2018 study found that many Israelis Jews didn’t want to hear Arabic spoken in public spaces and a majority didn’t want their children becoming friends with Palestinians of the opposite sex.

Now look at Israel’s political options. Yair Lapid is head of the Yesh Atid party, a man with a long history of anti-Arab outbursts. From refusing to serve in a government alongside Palestinians to expressing opposition to inter-marriage between Jews and non-Jews to urging the assassination of Hamas leaders in Gaza, Lapid is a more telegenic version of Netanyahu.

Then there’s labour leader Avi Gabbay, whose party is likely in its death throes, who urges more violence against Palestinians and refuses to serve in a government with them.

Then there’s newcomer and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, who has formed a new party and is polling well. But he’s said little about his policies. He recently backed the idea of Israel keeping some illegal, West Bank settlements in any peace treaty. And a two state solution seems unlikely on his watch.

One of Gantz’s campaign ads even brags about the number of Palestinians killed during the 2014 Gaza war. And a Palestinian-Dutch citizen is suing Gantz for bombing his family home in Gaza during the 2014 war with Israel.

And those are just the so-called centrists. Pro-settler politician Naftali Bennett doesn’t believe that Palestinians are even under Israeli occupation (and he refuses to accept that all Palestinians in the West Bank be given full, civilian rights under the law), to say nothing of what Jewish Power is likely to come up with.

The state of Israeli democracy is parlous. At the April election, only one in four of the 6.5 million Palestinians living under various forms of Israeli rule in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, or around 24%, have the legal right to vote.

This leaves American and Diaspora Jews with a dilemma. When will the love affair with the Jewish state end, or at least, become so strained that automatic support isn’t guaranteed?

That moment has arrived with some Democrats in the US increasingly critical of Israeli policies (though the party leadership remains a close friend of the Jewish state). And young Jews in Europe and the US are vocal about their disgust with more than 50 years of Israeli occupation (notwithstanding the surging support for nationalist and pro-Israel policies in many European nations).

Older Jews are following — as they should be.

It’s foolish to believe that the removal of any leader, even a leader like Netanyahu, will radically change the political direction Israel has taken, descending ever rightward. There is no leader in Israeli politics today capable — or willing — to guide Israel into the warm embrace of the liberal, Zionist dream of a two-state solution.

This is not to defend or justify Netanyahu. He’s a corrupt menace to minorities and human rights and must be vigorously opposed and defeated. But the reason behind his rise to power and retention of huge amounts of support is the more uncomfortable question that must be answered.

Antony Loewenstein is a Jerusalem-based, independent, investigative journalist who has written for the New York Times, Guardian and many others, author of “My Israel Question” and “Disaster Capitalism: Making A Killing Out Of Catastrophe”, amongst others, writer of the documentary “Disaster Capitalism” and will be releasing a book on the global “war on drugs” in 2019. He’s been reporting on Israel/Palestine since 2003.

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Pakistani TV interview on global refugee crisis

Yesterday I was interviewed by Pakistani TV network Indus News about the global refugee crisis. My segment starts at 13:55:

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How Washington has created chaos in Honduras

Honduras is a key nation in the US-backed “war on drugs”. I visited there to report on what this meant for civilians, many of whom flee in fear to the US.

Here’s my story in the new US outlet, Filter, covering drugs domestically and globally, on the grin reality in Honduras and why so many of its citizens are leaving in despair:

Trump Should Know How US Drug Policy Drives Migration From Honduras

 

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The Nation interview on Afghan resources and peace prospects

US magazine The Nation recently published my investigation into the Afghan mining industry. I was interviewed about the story, and the ongoing peace talks between the US and Taliban, on the popular Nation podcast, Start Making Sense:

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What will happen to the vast resources in Afghanistan?

My 4000-word investigation in US magazine The Nation is on Afghanistan and the rush to exploit its natural resources. Based on explosive, leaked documents, the story uncovers how the Trump administration is pressuring the Kabul government to issue contracts to the highest bidder. Increased violence against civilians is assured. Foreign companies, Blackwater founder Erik Prince and others are all in the mix. Within hours of this report being published, I was reliably told that it was being read at the highest levels of the US embassy in Kabul and Afghanistan’s National Security Council.

This story is part of my ongoing series on Afghanistan and its minerals (more background here). In late 2018, I revealed details about Erik Prince and his plans to target Afghan resources.

Here’s my latest story in PDF form: Peace in Afghanistan? Maybe—but a Minerals Rush Is Already Underway | The Nation

 

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