In watching the unfolding events in Aleppo, Syria, I can’t help but question how such an outcome could be possible with the whole world watching. Are we really so powerless to stand up for basic human decency? Is there really nothing we can do in the face of this without an all-out military solution?
Over the last week, it occurred to me that one way to non-violently influence events inside of a country like Syria, is to affect the life-style options of its leaders and leading citizens. We have a “no fly” list for terrorists. Why not for assholes?
Consider the pressures of leading a country like Syria. Bashar al-Assad and his cronies consist of maybe a few hundred wealthy families in Syria. They have kids and wives and cousins and friends of cousins.
You get the point.
What if we put all those folks on a blacklist for booking airline flights, good hotels around the world, credit card approvals, etc. How long would they continue doing what they are doing? If those leaders and their families are refused flights to Dubai or Paris or London for shopping, could this have an influence on the actions of these governments?
My sense is yes. We live in communities and—leaders of communities have a responsibility for the quality of life for that community. If Assad’s 10 year-old son suddenly wants the latest computer gadget, his inclination would be to fulfill that desire unless he’s prevented from doing just that. When enough family members regularly complain to the head of the family—or of the government, could there be an effect?
This is not complicated technologically. Between Google and Facebook, we already have all the data needed to place members of the ruling class of Syria on an “asshole list.” That list could be provided to all the large airline, travel and international banking companies, with the proviso that we are watching their participation in this effort and would publicize via social media who was playing and who wasn’t.
Naturally, it would be possible to request being dropped from such a list. But the “listee” would have to explicitly make his or her case for being dropped from the list. And of course, this idea would have to be crafted carefully to honor the sick, the young and the innocent.
But…is it possible this could work?