In Exodus, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, tells him that he is trying to do too much at once. Jethro tells Moses that “you will wear yourselves out, because the task is too heavy for you. You cannot handle it alone.”
It is a trap that we fall into too often in modern times. We try to make someone or something do too many things. Some stark examples are evident this week.
Australian forces have finally left Afghanistan after almost 20 years. Our initial engagement was a roaring success. We, with our allies, defeated the Taliban
and forced the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, responsible for the September 11 attacks, back to a network of caves. These were the kind of jobs that our armed forces were trained for, and they did their job commendably.
We then asked our soldiers to help rebuild a nation. Our special forces were over relied upon for this task. Some, under the stress of repeated tours of duty, lost discipline and committed inhumane acts. The vast majority continued to do their duty although the success was more mixed.
The lesson is that we shouldn’t try to do too many things at once. Our armed forces are some of the best in the world but they are trained to kill and defeat enemies.
We should stop trying to load them up with additional responsibilities, such as being a modern, woke police. Our armed forces will be less effective if we task them with trying to defeat political incorrectness and terrorism at the same time.
Likewise, we have to make a choice about what we concentrate on in global affairs in the decade to come.
There is pressure on Australia to do further damage to our weakened manufacturing industry by cutting our carbon emissions.
There is also pressure on us to rebuild our manufacturing industry so that we can better defend ourselves against an increasingly aggressive China.
We can’t do both of these things. In fact, if we try to cut our carbon emissions, not only will it weaken our manufacturing industry, it will strengthen China’s, because they will simply ignore any global agreement to cut carbon emissions.
We don’t have to make predictions about what China will do. We can see what they are doing before us. Last year China committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2060. And, then last year China built 37 gigawatts of new coal fired power, almost double Australia’s installed capacity of coal fired power.
Worse still because some western countries are so focused on reaching a climate deal, China has been inadvertently shielded from legitimate criticism about its recent conduct. As the Wall Street Journal said this week “China is happy to jibber-jabber about climate with the Americans if it means not having to engage on Taiwan, Hong Kong, Beijing’s repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang, the South China Sea, North Korea, or intellectual property theft.”
Like Moses, we need to decide on what is most important for Australia to focus on. Given the sorry state of our domestic manufacturing capability, we should focus on restoring our sovereign capacity to make things instead of chase the uncertain goal of cooling the planet.