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Kevin Foster

Kevin Foster

Kevin Foster is an Associate Professor in the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University. His most recent book is Anti-Social Media: Conventional Militaries in the Digital Battlespace (Melbourne University Press 2021).

Kevin Foster reviews ‘The Nature of Honour’ by David McBride

January-February 2024, no. 461 18 December 2023
Sometimes, for the faithful, it doesn’t do to look too closely into the life of your chosen idol. Saul of Tarsus had been an enthusiastic persecutor of Christians before his spiritual detour en route to Damascus. St Camillus de Lellis, patron saint of nurses and the sick, to whom we owe the symbol of the red cross, spent his early life as a con man, a mercenary, and a compulsive gambler – li ... (read more)

Kevin Foster reviews 'The Sparrows of Kabul' by Fred Smith

December 2023, no. 460 24 November 2023
Diplomat and musician Fred Smith’s memoir of his time with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) at Kabul airport, and later in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), processing Afghan evacuees fleeing the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, opens with a richly symbolic vignette. On his first visit to the North Gate, one of only three public entry points to Kabul airport, Smith is ... (read more)

Kevin Foster reviews 'Crossing the Line' by Nick McKenzie

August 2023, no. 456 24 July 2023
When Justice Anthony Besanko released his judgment on the Ben Roberts-Smith versus Fairfax defamation case on 1 June, there was a lot more riding on his decision than the reputation of the principal parties and who would be landed with the eye-watering legal bills. Had the verdict gone against Fairfax, its reporters, Nick McKenzie, Chris Masters, and, to a lesser extent, Dan Oakes, would have stru ... (read more)

Kevin Foster reviews 'Line in the Sand' by Dean Yates

July 2023, no. 455 27 June 2023
We’ve all seen the video. The black and white images are washed out, almost solarised, by the heat and glare of a Baghdad morning in 2007. As the men walk and mingle on the street, we can make out the length of their hair, pick out the skinny from the stocky, and identify what they are wearing, loose trousers, casual shirts – one with distinctive broad stripes. Mercifully, we cannot discern th ... (read more)

Kevin Foster reviews 'The Bolivian Times' by Tim Elliot

July 2001, no. 232 01 July 2001
In 1897, Winston Churchill published his only novel, Savrola, a racy account of revolution and romantic intrigue in the imaginary South American republic of Laurania. The book traces the rise, fall, and rise of Savrola, a gifted politician and charismatic orator who outmanoeuvres a despotic military regime to restore democratic rule to the undeserving masses, only to fall prey to a socialist revol ... (read more)

Kevin Foster reviews 'Subimperial Power: Australia in the international arena' by Clinton Fernandes

December 2022, no. 449 25 November 2022
When the Howard government committed Australian troops to fight in Afghanistan in 2001, and later in Iraq, it did so without recourse to parliament or the courts. Not only can the prime minister sanction the despatch of the nation’s forces to fight overseas, he or she has no need of parliamentary approval. Indeed, there is no requirement to debate such a proposal before a decision is made. Aus ... (read more)

Kevin Foster reviews 'Veiled Valour: Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan and war crimes allegations' by Tom Frame

September 2022, no. 446 25 August 2022
Almost fifteen years ago, struck by the paucity of information in the media about the ADF deployment to Afghanistan, I edited a short collection of essays that posed a modest question: What are we doing in Afghanistan? (2009). I wish I had known then half of what Tom Frame reveals about the ADF’s activities in Central Asia in his new book, Veiled Valour. As it turned out, the Australians in Afg ... (read more)

Kevin Foster reviews 'Rogue Forces: An explosive insiders’ account of Australian SAS war crimes in Afghanistan' by Mark Willacy

November 2021, no. 437 25 October 2021
On 19 November 2020, the Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, released the findings of the Brereton Report, so named for the New South Wales Supreme Court Judge and Reserve Major General Paul Brereton, who led the investigation into war crimes allegations against members of the Australian SAS. The report had been a long time coming – with good reason. O ... (read more)

Kevin Foster reviews 'No Front Line: Australia’s special forces at war in Afghanistan' by Chris Masters

January–February 2018, no. 398 19 December 2017
Few organisations defend their reputation more vigorously than the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Long since clasped to the national bosom, the ADF has no intention of being shoehorned out of its prized position at the heart of Australian identity and culture. The first duty of its public affairs personnel is to protect the brand – a brand, it believes, is fragile and under constant assault. In ... (read more)

Kevin Foster reviews 'The First Casualty' by Peter Greste

December 2017, no. 397 24 November 2017
It’s a provocative title. Forty-two years ago, Phillip Knightley’s The First Casualty: From the Crimea to Vietnam: The war correspondent as hero, propagandist, and myth-maker (1975) kick-started a new field of media history. Knightley’s rollicking account of journalistic connivance with political and military power from the Crimean to the Gulf Wars spared his industry nothing. The fourth est ... (read more)
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