I was recently listening to a lecture series on ancient mid-eastern religions, and doing so really illustrated to me how far back liberal/meritocratic reasoning goes, and how much trouble we "moderns" still have in recognizing such reasoning to be morally bankrupt.
In a story that dates back at least 4000 years, we find Ea (the Babylonian 'god of wisdom'), defending his point of view in a discussion with his fellow 'gods'.
In this story, which is about the aftermath of the gods having just drowned all of humanity because they wanted to "punish" them for being so noisy and "cull" them for "there being so many of them", Ea argues the following: it was wrong of you to do this, as your choice of a flood was "too devastating", and "too indiscriminate", and not the right tool for the job (of reducing 'humanity' to a headcount that was more acceptable to the 'gods'). ... Ea: "punish the sinner for the sin, punish the criminals for their crimes. ... [these things are fine, as we 'gods' decide what counts as a "sin" or "crime".] But ease off, don't let their punishment get in the way of the work they're doing" [don't hurt the economy]. "Use ravaging lions, wolves, to tear people apart. Send famines, illness. ... All of these would be more moderate, more discriminating, and doing so would allow some people to survive."
In sum, we here have a story in which a "God" -- of "wisdom", no less -- tells us that 'he thinks' that the deliberate and wanton mass murder of beings you consider "inferior" is just fine, as is 'culling' them because you find their behavior annoying, or because you think there are 'too many' of them; but please be "moderate," and use the right tool for the job.
And here we are, 4 millennia later, accepting the exact same sorts of arguments about what's the "proper" way to "take out Saddam" or "Gadaffi" or "Assad", with the same disinterest in the material consequences -- the fact that by doing so, you will be destroying entire societies -- until well after they happen, at which point some of the same blowhards starts chastising the others for using "disproportionate violence", but refusing to challenge the premises.
And when it comes to the other animals, too, the only arguments you hear from nonvegans are "which methods do we use" and "genocide is bad, so put a few of them in captivity so zoos can make money off their existence", although "genocide" isn't even really a concern for the majority of animals we treat as property because we fucking breed them into existence to use and kill them, just like we tell ourselves the "gods" did in the stories we've made up about "how they think".