Say John Wayne Gacy, after being nabbed for raping and killing 33 young men, 29 of whom he buried under his house and on his property, told police that he could have killed 50, 100, or 375, if he had wanted to. But the fact that he murdered only 33 proved his restraint, if not his humanity, and should be taken in consideration when pressing charges.
Think that defense would fly? Well, many of Israel's online supporters buy into this reasoning, and flog it after each new round of aerial aggression.
"If Israel wanted, it could turn Lebanon into a fuckin' parking lot!"
That it could, I suppose, but even that would take some serious work. Still, as the body count rises daily (Israel is now bombing near funeral processions, among the standard civilian targets, like refugee camps -- Israel loves hitting refugee camps), we'll continue to hear how the 14 who were killed here, or the 23 who were killed there, could have been more; but thanks to Israel's tender mercy, this isn't happening. Well, not today, anyway. Tomorrow? Fresh slate. Anything's possible.
Again, I won't link to the sites and those commentators who spew this rancid reasoning. You know the circuit and can follow it yourself, if you care to. But this suggests that for all of the "civilized" advances made in our imperial state (and I concede that there have been some), the lust for violence, especially against a despised group of people, remains strong. This isn't exactly groundbreaking news, but every once in a while it helps to openly state the obvious, just to keep matters in focus and the agenda clear.
When poor people slaughter each other in a small country few can find on a map, tears are shed, hands are wrung, morality invoked, noble poses struck. When rich nations pummel poor people into pink mist, excuses are made, defenses advanced, criticisms muted and kept respectable. No decent dissident would dare compare US violence with Hutu rampages, even if those who support the former sound a lot like those who advocated the latter via poisonous radio broadcasts. A Hutu apologist who said that his tribe could have killed more Tutsis had they desired, and that this "restraint" validated the larger enterprise, would rightly be dismissed and denounced as a murderous crank. But how often have we seen, to this day, US imperial supporters -- "experts" as they're labeled on cable chat -- essentially say the same thing about Vietnam? or any aggression for that matter? The same holds true for those who back, even "critically," Israeli violence. I wouldn't go so far as to compare the IDF with Hutu militias (partly because the IDF is better armed), but some of the rhetoric used to justify mass murder in either case is eerily identical. Hutu lunatics ranted about Tutsi "cockroaches," as did Israeli officials like former IDF General Rafael Eitan when describing Palestinian prey. That one used a machete and the other used (and uses) cluster bombs to eradicate these "pests" merely highlights the difference between rich and poor, "civilized" and "barbaric."
Someone in Hezbollah's PR department might look to frame their killing of Israeli civilians in the same manner as those who approve of Israel's killing of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians (though Hezbollah lags behind Israel's faster pace). And should Hamas, or any group related to them, begin blowing up buses at busy Israeli intersections, all their supporters need to say in defense is that they could have exploded 27 buses, if they wanted to. The key is to imply that you can always butcher more than you already have, which gives you added space to do just that. Or to put it in shampoo bottle terms: lather, rinse, repeat. It's the sanitized way to kill.