Why Western leaders love dictatorships

My weekly Guardian column: Western-friendly dictators can die in peace, knowing they’ll be lauded as soon as they stop breathing. So it was for Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, who recently passed away at the age of 91. Tributes poured in from across the globe. Barack Obama called him “visionary” while Australian prime minister…

Opposing Washington's violence against Venezuela

I’m happy to have recently signed this statement on… Washington’s unprovoked aggression against Venezuela (via Telesur): WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has added his name to a growing list of Australian journalists, academics, politicians, trade unionists and solidarity activists calling on U.S. president… Barack… Obama to… revoke his executive… order against Venezuelan . On March 9, Obama issued… the order which… imposed sanctions… on…

Defending the rights of whistle-blowers in our age

My weekly Guardian column: Freedom is difficult to resuscitate once extinguished. Australian attorney-general George Brandis recently chastised journalists for criticising his government’s new laws aimed at preventing reporting about “special intelligence operations”. Because he’s a culture warrior brawler, Brandis damned the “usual suspects of the paranoid, fantasist left” but also “reputable conservative commentators” for questioning…

Australia's role as dutiful US client state

My weekly Guardian column: Back in July, Australian Opposition Leader Bill Shorten delivered a speech… at the Australian American Leadership Dialogue at the New York academy of sciences. It was full of motherhood statements – “We are bonded, we are blood cousins” – praise for Israel’s “innovation” (no mention of the Palestinians) and clichéd rhetoric about…

Inside the mind of ISIS

I’m currently in America, investigating disaster capitalism in privatised immigration detention for my 2015 Verso book. I’ve been watching a lot of cable TV (lord knows why but I’m a masochist) and it’s been ISIS day and night (apart from mostly awful coverage of the killing of Michael Brown and white blindness on racism). Fox…

Don't mention the Iraqi oil

Perceptive Steve Coll in The New Yorker: Obama’s advisers explained to reporters that Erbil holds an American consulate, and that “thousands” of Americans live there. The city has to be defended, they continued, lest… ISIS… overrun it and threaten American lives. Fair enough, but why are thousands of Americans in Erbil these days? It is not to…

How the NSA wants total population control

My weekly Guardian column: William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. He was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War but resigned soon after September 11, disgusted by Washington’s move towards mass surveillance. On 5 July he spoke at a… conference… in London organised by the…