20/02/2017 Newsnight


20/02/2017

Newsnight reports on the battle for Mosul, Trump's new national security adviser, business rates, the Russian revolution 100 years ago and the modern-day lessons of Thomas Telford.


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Transcript


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The Battle for Mosul started four months ago.

:00:00.:00:07.

The anti-ISIS forces have taken the east of the city.

:00:08.:00:10.

And now the struggle for the west is underway.

:00:11.:00:14.

But the fighting around Mosul is only the start of it.

:00:15.:00:17.

What is the plan to defeat so-called Islamic State altogether,

:00:18.:00:20.

Well that blueprint awaits the new leadership in the Pentagon

:00:21.:00:27.

and White House, something that came a step closer tonight

:00:28.:00:34.

with the appointment of a new National Security adviser.

:00:35.:00:36.

We'll talk through some of the options, and ask if there's

:00:37.:00:38.

any good new idea waiting for President Trump to pursue.

:00:39.:00:42.

A hundred years from the Russian February revolution.

:00:43.:00:44.

It was displaced by the Communist one a few months later.

:00:45.:00:48.

We'll ask what makes a revolution fail, or prevail.

:00:49.:00:54.

And we used to be the world's top nation at civil engineering.

:00:55.:00:56.

Are our politicians ready to rediscover their

:00:57.:00:58.

I worked as a special adviser in government about politicians excited

:00:59.:01:12.

about infrastructure. They wanted to get on and build it. They wanted to

:01:13.:01:18.

be photographed as well in this orange kit. Like the Village people,

:01:19.:01:23.

Westminster style. The fight against so-called

:01:24.:01:25.

Islamic State in Mosul which was launched in October,

:01:26.:01:27.

has made solid progress. The eastern part of the city has

:01:28.:01:30.

been taken, and the militants are now holed up in the west,

:01:31.:01:33.

effectively under siege, The offensive for that part

:01:34.:01:35.

of the city is underway. Which means, we need to think

:01:36.:01:40.

about the follow-through. IS have to be kept out,

:01:41.:01:45.

and the city and the Iraq Now - Donald Trump gave himself 30

:01:46.:01:47.

days to come up with a plan Well tonight he appointed

:01:48.:01:52.

a new National Security Advisor, Let's talk to Mark Urban

:01:53.:02:01.

our diplomatic editor. Tell us about General McMaster. It

:02:02.:02:19.

is this if the workings of the Washington machine and state are

:02:20.:02:23.

acting to wall in the Trump White House with sensible people. He is

:02:24.:02:30.

highly respected. He wrote a book critiquing the failures of civil and

:02:31.:02:33.

military leadership getting the country into the Vietnam War. So he

:02:34.:02:39.

knows about high-level command. In Iraq at a time when there was no

:02:40.:02:44.

good news, commanding a very complex battle very close to Mosul, that

:02:45.:02:49.

brought him to the attention of general Petraeus who pushed him

:02:50.:02:53.

through his promotion board to Brigadier general. He spent some

:02:54.:03:01.

time in London as well at the International Institute for

:03:02.:03:03.

strategic studies. A thoughtful and experienced man in the business of

:03:04.:03:07.

the complexities of modern operations. How difficult was it for

:03:08.:03:11.

President Trump to fill this post? Shockingly so, in a way. You

:03:12.:03:16.

would've thought there would be any manner of sharp elbowed Washington

:03:17.:03:20.

operatives wanting to get in there. But after the departure of general

:03:21.:03:25.

Flynn and the circumstances of that, it seems that a couple people were

:03:26.:03:29.

offered the job but did not take it, mainly it seems because they were

:03:30.:03:33.

not given the right to hire and fire their own staff. And then of course

:03:34.:03:38.

the choice settled on McMaster who as a serving officer could not

:03:39.:03:43.

refuse. Mike the first couple of people who had been tapped up. So

:03:44.:03:47.

Judy calls, he has been pushed forward and there are so many things

:03:48.:03:51.

on his plate. Starting with the business you were referring to, 30

:03:52.:03:55.

days to come up with the new plan and there still is not one. When

:03:56.:03:57.

will there be some kind of plan? Mosul has been a battle

:03:58.:04:03.

of two halves. Iraqi forces have now

:04:04.:04:05.

launched the second phase. As they push around

:04:06.:04:10.

the city, an anxious We are very worried that

:04:11.:04:12.

in the days and weeks ahead, as the military campaign

:04:13.:04:18.

intensifies, families Already there is a humanitarian

:04:19.:04:21.

crisis in the Western districts, the prices of food

:04:22.:04:34.

are skyrocketing, fuel is scarce, water is cut,

:04:35.:04:41.

electricity is intermittent. We understand that half of all

:04:42.:04:47.

the factories are already closed. The poorest families are forced

:04:48.:04:49.

to sell their furniture, burn their furniture in order

:04:50.:04:52.

to keep their houses. The Mosul offensive began four

:04:53.:04:54.

months ago, initially with a push to take the north and east

:04:55.:04:56.

of the city. By the beginning of this month,

:04:57.:04:58.

they had cleared almost This week's attack aims to envelop

:04:59.:05:01.

the west of Mosul prior to But while Mosul's fate remains

:05:02.:05:05.

sealed, Isis still has There is an American backed militia

:05:06.:05:08.

to the northern Syrian government But ramping up the US

:05:09.:05:13.

effort is fraught with The key question that

:05:14.:05:20.

this Administration is going to have to determine is how

:05:21.:05:24.

quickly do they want to get to If they want to move on Raqqa

:05:25.:05:27.

within the next four or five months, and they want to do that working

:05:28.:05:34.

with local forces, they are likely going to have to provide more

:05:35.:05:42.

assistance, even in terms of equipment and training or in terms

:05:43.:05:45.

of direct US and coalition military combat support to the Kurds,

:05:46.:05:48.

who are best positioned to isolate and seize Raqqa with

:05:49.:05:52.

their partners on the During his campaign,

:05:53.:05:54.

Donald Trump promised to put a swift Immediately after taking office,

:05:55.:05:58.

I will ask my generals to present to meet a plan within 30 days

:05:59.:06:06.

to defeat and destroy Isis. But now, 30 days after

:06:07.:06:11.

the inauguration, there is little sign of a crushing

:06:12.:06:15.

new American effort. Rather, the existing

:06:16.:06:20.

Mosul plan put in place under Obama is coming to fruition

:06:21.:06:24.

and the US Defence Secretary, visiting Iraq, was giving little

:06:25.:06:28.

away when asked if additional American troops would

:06:29.:06:32.

soon be dispatched. We will accommodate any request

:06:33.:06:36.

from the field commanders Our allies are carrying,

:06:37.:06:38.

as you can tell from the casualties list, the overwhelming

:06:39.:06:43.

burden of this fight And we will work by,

:06:44.:06:45.

with and through allies from the coalition, and that

:06:46.:06:51.

coalition, as you know, has more than 60 nations

:06:52.:06:55.

of varying levels. So we owe some degree of

:06:56.:07:00.

confidentiality on how we're going to do that, and the

:07:01.:07:07.

sequence of that fight. I would like to say what a privilege

:07:08.:07:10.

it is to begin serving our While the Pentagon has prepared some

:07:11.:07:14.

options for President Trump, the White House national

:07:15.:07:17.

security machinery has stalled, awaiting the new leadership

:07:18.:07:19.

announced tonight. What does strategic

:07:20.:07:22.

planning look like in this The good news is that

:07:23.:07:24.

the chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff is still in place,

:07:25.:07:40.

Secretary Mateus is in and most of the monetary

:07:41.:07:43.

leadership is still there. Another president will have

:07:44.:07:46.

options, but how those options are vetted

:07:47.:07:48.

is the real mystery. At the moment, America's Ground

:07:49.:07:50.

Force in Syria consists of these lightly armed,

:07:51.:07:52.

mainly Kurdish militias and a couple Giving them heavy weapons

:07:53.:07:54.

or more direct US support The Trump administration

:07:55.:08:00.

faces the same Sustaining or increasing air strikes

:08:01.:08:09.

requires access through Turkey. Increasing pressure on the ground

:08:10.:08:14.

through Allied Kurdish militias would annoy Turkey,

:08:15.:08:22.

jeopardising that access. If you put more

:08:23.:08:23.

American troops on the ground in Syria, that, too,

:08:24.:08:26.

might antagonise Turkey, So for now, the US options appear

:08:27.:08:28.

to involve more of the same, but if there is to be a radical departure,

:08:29.:08:44.

it could be up to America's new national security adviser

:08:45.:08:47.

to come up with it. Jon Finer was Chief of Staff

:08:48.:08:49.

to Secretary of State John Kerry and Director of Policy Planning

:08:50.:08:52.

at the State Department, Good evening. Can you give us your

:08:53.:09:11.

impression of General McMaster is it a good appointment? By all accounts

:09:12.:09:16.

it is. And I would agree. Before I worked in government I was a

:09:17.:09:20.

reporter for the Washington Post and spent a couple of years in Iraq

:09:21.:09:25.

covering the war. I spent about one month living and working alongside

:09:26.:09:31.

General McMaster in one of the seminal battles of the Iraq War that

:09:32.:09:35.

he was commander. He proved to be an innovative commander, trying some

:09:36.:09:42.

new counterinsurgency targets that were then applied later in the

:09:43.:09:46.

conflict and began to turn the war war in the direction of US coalition

:09:47.:09:52.

forces. A lot of people have said it is rather chaotic and we have not

:09:53.:09:57.

had a clear policy in many areas. Do you think now that Mike Flynn is out

:09:58.:10:04.

of the way, do you think stability and a clear policy will now emanate

:10:05.:10:09.

from this White House? I think it will be a lot harder than replacing

:10:10.:10:15.

one person. As important a job as it is. This is an encouraging pic but

:10:16.:10:19.

the real challenge has been so far President Trump has not been

:10:20.:10:24.

inclined to empower the National Security adviser and Council and has

:10:25.:10:30.

allowed to be established Parolo policy-making process run by Stephen

:10:31.:10:34.

Bannon and Steve Miller and others. That is doing some of the serious

:10:35.:10:39.

strategic thinking about national security issues that historically

:10:40.:10:42.

has been done and should be done by the NSC. So the real challenge that

:10:43.:10:47.

general McMaster will have, he will have mastered the issues and

:10:48.:10:53.

perfectly well this most important battlefield in which US forces are

:10:54.:10:57.

engaged in Mosul, but the question is does he have the trust of the

:10:58.:11:01.

president such that he will be empowered to make policy. One

:11:02.:11:07.

interesting thing is, the president said within 30 days I want to have a

:11:08.:11:13.

plan, he used at one point the words, to wipe Isis off the face of

:11:14.:11:22.

the earth. Can that be achieved? Where the president should begin and

:11:23.:11:25.

I think where the Pentagon should start, with a plan already in place.

:11:26.:11:29.

There has been extraordinary progress already made in the fight

:11:30.:11:34.

against Isis. They had seized control of broad swathes of

:11:35.:11:38.

territory in Anbar province. The Iraqi army has gone in with our help

:11:39.:11:43.

and pushed Isis out of both major cities, Falluja and Ramadi. Now we

:11:44.:11:48.

turned attention to Mosul, and we always knew that would be the

:11:49.:11:52.

hardest fight in Iraq. At this stage half of the city has been liberated.

:11:53.:11:56.

That took four months and that is the lesson populist heart of the

:11:57.:12:02.

city. Isis by all accounts is well dug in in the western half of the

:12:03.:12:06.

city. So this is still going to be difficult. Moving this more quickly

:12:07.:12:12.

is going to require a greater investment of US forces. But will

:12:13.:12:16.

also potentially produce more casualties. So will the White House

:12:17.:12:21.

decided that it wants to get more invested or will it be comfortable

:12:22.:12:24.

with the pace as things proceed which right now has been relatively

:12:25.:12:30.

successful. When you take the battle into Syria there is a conundrum.

:12:31.:12:34.

Either you have the ground war which could mean offending Turkey or the

:12:35.:12:37.

air power through Turkey which leaves you helpless on the ground.

:12:38.:12:43.

Or you send in your own guys and potentially upset quite a lot of

:12:44.:12:46.

people. Is there a solution to that, do you think President Trump could

:12:47.:12:52.

say I have an idea, it is not what Obama was doing, I have my own idea

:12:53.:12:58.

and it will get quick results. Well you hit on one central problem of

:12:59.:13:03.

the fight against Isis, we have an advantage in Iraq that we do not

:13:04.:13:08.

have in Syria, namely a local partner, the Iraqi army. We have

:13:09.:13:11.

trained and equipped them and they know how to fight. Not always

:13:12.:13:18.

displayed as effectively as it should. But which has stood back up

:13:19.:13:22.

and is now taking the fight to Isis. In Syria we do not have that ready

:13:23.:13:26.

partner and so this difficult decision about whether to use

:13:27.:13:32.

Kurdish forces effectively to fight in what is predominantly Sunni Arab

:13:33.:13:35.

territory will be the hardest in many ways that the administration

:13:36.:13:39.

will face. That will come at a cost in terms of relations with the Sunni

:13:40.:13:43.

Muslims who are living in those areas. But at this stage there is no

:13:44.:13:47.

other obvious fighting force for which to take cities like Raqqa.

:13:48.:13:50.

Thank you very much. Major General Chip Chapman

:13:51.:13:51.

was Senior British Military Advisor He worked under General Mattis, now

:13:52.:13:54.

Donald Trump's Defense Secretary. Good evening. Do you know of a plan

:13:55.:14:10.

that is radically different to the plan we heard described there, the

:14:11.:14:14.

Obama plan, is there a plan sitting waiting to be had upon that is going

:14:15.:14:19.

to wipe Isis of the face of the earth? Well there are two parts.

:14:20.:14:26.

First the president? Missive to come up with a plan to defeat Isis in 30

:14:27.:14:32.

days is not credible, defeat is a military mission verb and will not

:14:33.:14:37.

lead to the religious ethnic, sectarian, ideological tensions

:14:38.:14:41.

being put to bed. So partly this is to do with government and partly to

:14:42.:14:47.

do with stabilisation. The higher headquarters running the Middle

:14:48.:14:50.

East, do they have plans, of course they do. And it is their job to give

:14:51.:14:57.

the president options from humanitarian support to putting in

:14:58.:15:05.

the Marines over a beach. But will the American people go for that, I

:15:06.:15:10.

do not think so. So the military part is simple, the stabilisation

:15:11.:15:14.

and government part is the challenge. Give us insight into

:15:15.:15:18.

general matters, the Defence Secretary. People speak highly of

:15:19.:15:23.

him. Mad dog matters and names like that. What approached you think that

:15:24.:15:28.

he will take? He's the thoughtful and wise person. The mad dog acronym

:15:29.:15:36.

is the kind of media thing, cultural information put out there from when

:15:37.:15:41.

he was a war fighter. In his latter career he was a warrior diplomat. If

:15:42.:15:45.

you look at his confirmation hearing in the Senate, he said he looked

:15:46.:15:49.

forward to working with all the other organisations of government

:15:50.:15:52.

including state. Of course you have to look more widely than just the

:15:53.:15:57.

military part. He is looking at grand strategy in terms of

:15:58.:16:00.

diplomatic information, military and economic power and not just in a

:16:01.:16:02.

short and narrow military context. How like Donald Trump is he? How

:16:03.:16:12.

close in thinking do you think he is to the President? Is he a Trumper?

:16:13.:16:20.

He never made any political pronouncements during the campaign,

:16:21.:16:28.

and nor would he. One of the things that companies associated with this

:16:29.:16:31.

having a much closer relationship with Russia and is Syria. You could

:16:32.:16:38.

imagine that there are old school Americans that are saying, hang on a

:16:39.:16:45.

minute, Russia are not allies. What side would Mattis beyond? He has

:16:46.:16:50.

said on many occasions that the only thing worse than fighting with

:16:51.:16:53.

allies is not fighting with allies. He is an internationalist and not

:16:54.:16:57.

parole Russia at all. You will look at this through a grand strategic

:16:58.:17:01.

lens of where Russia are a threat, because his job is no wider than the

:17:02.:17:06.

Middle East. It is Russia, China, and a global forum. He is one of the

:17:07.:17:10.

most well read menu could come across. He is a great strategic

:17:11.:17:15.

thinker. But it takes more than a great strategic thinker to solve the

:17:16.:17:21.

conundrum that every time you try to do something, you could troops there

:17:22.:17:26.

or use air power or ground power, you are offending another player in

:17:27.:17:30.

the region, who depend upon for flying troops in or whatever. It is

:17:31.:17:36.

there a solution to this? I will give you two quotes from Mattis. He

:17:37.:17:40.

always said that this is a wicked problem and sometimes, quoting

:17:41.:17:44.

Winston Churchill, you can have too much water. A direct quote from him

:17:45.:17:50.

on Syria was this. I am morally appalled outraged, but do you want

:17:51.:17:57.

soldiers in Oslo and country shooting people? No, you need an

:17:58.:18:01.

international mandate. We have that in Iraq but we do not have it in

:18:02.:18:06.

Syria. To unlock Islamic State, you have to be successful in Iraq and

:18:07.:18:08.

Syria. He putted very well. There are two relevant stories

:18:09.:18:14.

in the news at the moment. One is discontent with

:18:15.:18:19.

a revaluation of business rates It will have winners and losers,

:18:20.:18:22.

and predictably the losers The other story is that

:18:23.:18:25.

council tax across England is expected to rise in April -

:18:26.:18:33.

most authorities will raise by as much as they can

:18:34.:18:35.

without exceeding the limit at which they now trigger an

:18:36.:18:38.

obligatory council tax referendum. It will go a small way to helping

:18:39.:18:40.

fill the gap in social care funding. In fact, no taxes are very popular,

:18:41.:18:44.

except the ones other people pay. But looking at the debate over

:18:45.:18:49.

social care, and business rates one has to say that Britain's approach

:18:50.:18:51.

to tax is very ad hoc. It seems to lurch from one

:18:52.:18:54.

argument to another, reacting to the latest desperate

:18:55.:18:56.

need rather than any Tax is like the tangle

:18:57.:18:59.

of cables behind the TV. It just kind of builds up over time

:19:00.:19:07.

and it's rarely convenient to most of us who have a life,

:19:08.:19:10.

to sit down and comprehensively And in Britain, the tax tangle

:19:11.:19:13.

results from too much tactical Do you remember this one? The

:19:14.:19:28.

omnishambles budget? We will also address some of the loopholes and

:19:29.:19:33.

anomalies in our VAT system. Takeaway food on the High Street has

:19:34.:19:39.

been charged VAT for years but some hot supermarket food is not. That

:19:40.:19:46.

became the pasty tax. VAT applied to all hot food, including pasties. It

:19:47.:19:50.

caused a political fuss. When was the last time you bought a pasty in

:19:51.:19:57.

Greggs? Ironically, Mr Osborne's hit on pasties was an attempt to think

:19:58.:20:02.

strategically. It was an attempt to iron out a complicated anomaly but

:20:03.:20:06.

it turned out to be politically inexpedient. It appeared to show

:20:07.:20:11.

that he was out of touch with the pasty eating classes. A cardinal

:20:12.:20:15.

sin. It was soon amended, a victory for tactical thinking over the

:20:16.:20:20.

strategic. So what are the pressures for the tax tangle?

:20:21.:20:22.

Its the asymmetry of winners and losers.

:20:23.:20:23.

That creates a short-term political pressure which is irresistible

:20:24.:20:26.

because politicians have to be short-term, which leads to a quick

:20:27.:20:28.

Rupert Harrison was George Osborne's right-hand man at the Treasury at

:20:29.:20:38.

the time of the omnishambles. There are some good reasons why you have

:20:39.:20:43.

to have complexity. There are bad reasons. In the UK, sometimes the

:20:44.:20:48.

pressure for announcements, an annual budget cycle, often the

:20:49.:20:51.

Autumn Statement is a vehicle for announcements as well and sometimes

:20:52.:20:54.

that can lead to unnecessary complexity. The people who think

:20:55.:21:00.

about this, the people who work in institutes like the Institute for

:21:01.:21:04.

government or the Institute for Fiscal Studies, they say that what

:21:05.:21:09.

we need is for each Parliament, the government to set out its big

:21:10.:21:13.

thoughts over the direction of the tax system. That way there will be

:21:14.:21:16.

principles and we will see the government stick to them or break

:21:17.:21:20.

them. If we were to have a big strategic discussion like that now,

:21:21.:21:26.

one question would be, is social care adequately funded? And if not,

:21:27.:21:30.

where is the extra money for it going to come from? Wheat can box to

:21:31.:21:36.

keep up with demand, dump on council tax, as it is not the responsibility

:21:37.:21:39.

of central government, or we could stand back and work out an approach,

:21:40.:21:45.

but that would have the disadvantage of making it obvious to the losers

:21:46.:21:50.

are. At least Britain is not uniquely dysfunctional. When you

:21:51.:21:53.

look internationally, the UK does not look too bad, in my view. When

:21:54.:21:57.

you look at the biggest economy in the world, the US economy, the tax

:21:58.:22:03.

policy making system there is impossibly Byzantine compared to the

:22:04.:22:07.

system we have in the UK. At the moment, US tax reform, and which tax

:22:08.:22:13.

reform the US Congress is going to pass is probably more important for

:22:14.:22:18.

the UK economy than anything happening in the UK. Tax is

:22:19.:22:21.

something of a tangle everywhere, because the same forces apply.

:22:22.:22:23.

But we do get the tax system we deserve.

:22:24.:22:28.

And we are entering the budget season, as it is only 16 days away.

:22:29.:22:31.

I dare say we will have a lot more to say about it before

:22:32.:22:35.

The Telegraph reporting tomorrow that Philip Hammond will be making,

:22:36.:22:41.

or will be taking measures to ease some of the pain of the business

:22:42.:22:45.

rates revaluation. February 1917 - a hundred years

:22:46.:22:47.

ago in other words - It didn't really work,

:22:48.:22:49.

and so a few months later they had a second one that brought

:22:50.:22:57.

the Communists to power. Some revolutions

:22:58.:22:59.

prevail, others don't. Some prevail, but then

:23:00.:23:01.

go on to fail. Before we mark the centenary

:23:02.:23:03.

of Russia's revolutions, historian Orlando Figes -

:23:04.:23:04.

a specialist on the Russian revolution - sets out

:23:05.:23:07.

some of the lessons. It's difficult to generalise

:23:08.:23:21.

about revolutions and come up They're too diverse in form

:23:22.:23:23.

to follow general rules. But there are some

:23:24.:23:29.

things we can say. First, revolutions

:23:30.:23:31.

are unpredictable. Even when they're expected,

:23:32.:23:33.

as the Russian Revolution On the evening of the 25th

:23:34.:23:45.

February, after three days of mass demonstrations

:23:46.:23:49.

in the Russian capital, Alexander Shliapnikov,

:23:50.:23:52.

the leading Bolshevik in Petrograd, scoffed at the idea that this

:23:53.:23:57.

could lead to revolution. "Give the workers a pound

:23:58.:24:00.

of bread, and the movement The next day, the soldiers

:24:01.:24:03.

of the czar shot in panic at the crowds and then

:24:04.:24:10.

joined the people's side. Their mutiny immediately

:24:11.:24:16.

turning the demonstrations into a full-fledged revolution that

:24:17.:24:17.

would bring the czarist People's revolutions,

:24:18.:24:19.

like the one in February 1917, The actions of the crowd,

:24:20.:24:22.

uncontrolled by anyone, but influenced by rumours

:24:23.:24:29.

and slogans or ideas such as freedom or justice,

:24:30.:24:36.

that give them the illusion But in reality, they usually contain

:24:37.:24:38.

the seeds of their own destruction. Their degeneration into civil war,

:24:39.:24:49.

dictatorship, and terror, at the hands of demagogues

:24:50.:24:51.

like the Bolsheviks, who came to power in October

:24:52.:24:53.

by mobilising violence based October 1917 became the prototype

:24:54.:24:57.

for all the revolutions of the 20th century,

:24:58.:25:05.

from China to Iran. And in many ways the Bolsheviks

:25:06.:25:07.

remain a model for the And that's the second

:25:08.:25:10.

point I'd make. All revolutionaries look

:25:11.:25:14.

to the revolutionaries of the past. The Bolsheviks modelled themselves

:25:15.:25:19.

on the Jacobins and tried to learn the lessons of failed revolutions

:25:20.:25:22.

in the 19th century. But the Leninist revolutionary

:25:23.:25:30.

model, to organise a putsch, through a small vanguard

:25:31.:25:32.

of militants, and then use dictatorship and civil war to build

:25:33.:25:36.

a social base for the transformation of society, became a model

:25:37.:25:41.

for revolutionaries in third world countries, where the democratic base

:25:42.:25:48.

for a social revolution was too weak Revolutions are by

:25:49.:25:51.

nature illegitimate. The violent overthrow

:25:52.:25:55.

of divine kings and - at least in Russia -

:25:56.:25:57.

elected parliaments. They need a foundation myth

:25:58.:25:59.

to legitimise and sustain They need propaganda

:26:00.:26:01.

images and symbols. The great October Revolution

:26:02.:26:06.

as a mass uprising, the victory of the people in the Civil War,

:26:07.:26:11.

the achievements of the five-year Three generations after the founding

:26:12.:26:14.

of the Bolshevik regime, the founding myths of

:26:15.:26:20.

the October Revolution meant very There was barely anybody left alive

:26:21.:26:22.

who could remember October. And their grandchildren

:26:23.:26:33.

increasingly took their values Orlando Figes - who you saw there

:26:34.:26:35.

at the Royal Academy's Revolution exhibition on the art of the period

:26:36.:26:42.

- joins me now with two other people who know a bit

:26:43.:26:46.

about popular uprisings. Mustafa Nayyem, who was at

:26:47.:26:48.

the forefront of the Ukrainian protests that overthrew

:26:49.:26:51.

Victor Yanukovych in 2014. And Reem Assil, who was active

:26:52.:26:55.

in movement against She fled the country

:26:56.:27:03.

after being tortured. I want to start with you two, Reem

:27:04.:27:13.

Assil, do you see the Russian Revolution is having any parallels

:27:14.:27:18.

relevance, the history of it, of importance as Syria thinks about

:27:19.:27:20.

revolution? I don't think so, to be honest. To start, I am not

:27:21.:27:27.

knowledgeable when it comes to the Russian Revolution. But I think that

:27:28.:27:35.

for the Syrian people, the idol of revolutions, if you like, is the

:27:36.:27:42.

French Revolution. Back that far? Not the Iranians? No, no. People

:27:43.:27:49.

aspire to the French Revolution. They wanted to have something like

:27:50.:27:55.

it. Back in 2011, I totally agree with Orlando, the revolutions are

:27:56.:28:01.

unpredictable. No-one would have believed that something like this

:28:02.:28:04.

would take place in Syria until it actually happened. Orlando in his

:28:05.:28:10.

piece said that all revolutions look to the past. Do you have one in the

:28:11.:28:15.

Ukraine that you look to or still look to? Somehow, Revolution in

:28:16.:28:19.

Ukraine, it recalls the revolution in Russia because actually the

:28:20.:28:26.

Communists took power, and the revolution we had three years ago,

:28:27.:28:33.

it was kind of in the spirit of freedom from that regime. For

:28:34.:28:39.

Ukraine, this revolution was a fight for independence from that cage of

:28:40.:28:46.

Soviet governance. Really, we look back but it was not an example,

:28:47.:28:50.

definitely, because the revolution in the Ukraine was the revolution of

:28:51.:28:56.

the middle class, first of all, sophisticated people, it is not a

:28:57.:29:00.

people's revolution in the sense of a revolution in 1917. Let's talk

:29:01.:29:07.

about what makes a revolution work. Orlando, how do you distinguish the

:29:08.:29:12.

successful ones from the unsuccessful ones? There are two

:29:13.:29:15.

notions, the ones that grab power and the ones that use power to serve

:29:16.:29:20.

their own objectives. What defines the good ones and the bad ones? I

:29:21.:29:26.

think Reem and Mustafa are looking back to a People's Revolution, a

:29:27.:29:32.

democratic uprising that is much more sustainable now in the age of

:29:33.:29:37.

social media. That was a big advantage to the Arab Spring, and no

:29:38.:29:43.

doubt to my den two, to organise people in a way that was not

:29:44.:29:46.

possible for most of the 20th century and certainly was not

:29:47.:29:49.

possible on the 19th century when we had this all-powerful police state,

:29:50.:29:55.

in the countries where revolution was planned by revolutionaries. So

:29:56.:29:59.

that is a major breakthrough that I am glad to hear has meant that we

:30:00.:30:05.

are looking back more to the tradition of 1589 and February of

:30:06.:30:09.

1917. Perhaps that is what we should be celebrating this year, not

:30:10.:30:13.

October, which I think even the Russians are ambiguous about, but

:30:14.:30:17.

February, as a moment where people power could exercise itself on the

:30:18.:30:18.

street. But you get chaos and that is wipe

:30:19.:30:30.

the Bolsheviks could walk in into the vacuum of power left by perjury.

:30:31.:30:35.

All popular revolutions contain the seeds of their own destruction

:30:36.:30:38.

because the unleashed anger and hatred and no one can control that

:30:39.:30:44.

exact perhaps a demagogue. And with the Syrian revolution, the nice guys

:30:45.:30:51.

tend to be more gentle and then it is a bit chaotic? I agree. But in

:30:52.:30:59.

Syria I think there is another added complication. It is not in the hands

:31:00.:31:10.

of Syrians any more. They're not the ones to determine their fate, it has

:31:11.:31:15.

become further complicated. And it is worrying in that sense. Do you

:31:16.:31:25.

regret it, the revolution? Most of us would look at it and said it had

:31:26.:31:30.

got to be better before this. So is the price that you are paying for

:31:31.:31:34.

some unspecified hope of a better future worth the pain # absolutely.

:31:35.:31:41.

Personally I do not regret it. I would do the same again. But the

:31:42.:31:47.

thing is, in Syria it was a popular uprising. It was not well planned or

:31:48.:31:53.

anything, the people took to the streets. It was like a pressure

:31:54.:31:58.

cooker or stop it reached a point when the explosion was unavoidable.

:31:59.:32:10.

But for six months, although as Orlando said there is a lot of

:32:11.:32:17.

hatred with revolutions and negative energy but for six months in Syria

:32:18.:32:22.

we had a peaceful revolution. People took to the streets and really

:32:23.:32:28.

expressed their demand for freedom and justice, democracy. Then came

:32:29.:32:31.

the brutality, the huge brutality applied. Is your revolution over,

:32:32.:32:41.

Mustafa, or a work in progress question mark when we began our

:32:42.:32:46.

revolution we had a specific goal, to sign an agreement with the

:32:47.:32:53.

European Union. This really is the thing. The second thing is that

:32:54.:32:57.

Ukraine started with a peaceful protest. No one attacked the

:32:58.:33:05.

government. It is history now, two years ago. The violation of rules

:33:06.:33:09.

and brutality began after the revolution. Then we had war with

:33:10.:33:15.

Russia. So it was not only revolution but a fight for

:33:16.:33:20.

independence. If you are asking about regret, that is the price.

:33:21.:33:25.

Because look what happened in Belarussian. That is the virus of

:33:26.:33:33.

Soviet style governance. How long does the revolution take, how long

:33:34.:33:39.

did we give Syria before applying a judgment as to whether that settled

:33:40.:33:45.

something? The Syrian revolution has become a civil war and you could say

:33:46.:33:50.

that is the end of the revolution as such. You could also say that

:33:51.:33:54.

revolutions go on until either as with the French Revolution they

:33:55.:33:58.

become mainstream and get assimilated into political culture

:33:59.:34:03.

as in the Republican friends of the 19th century. But I think because

:34:04.:34:08.

revolutions have this problem with legitimacy, with internal, external

:34:09.:34:16.

enemies, there is this unresolved tension and violence which tends to

:34:17.:34:21.

perpetuate violence. It means that until some new resolution can be

:34:22.:34:26.

found which often cannot be found, the revolution is constantly looking

:34:27.:34:32.

for new bases of support, new vindication of its policies. A

:34:33.:34:39.

revocation of opposition. So I would say in the Soviet case it did not

:34:40.:34:44.

end really until 1991. You're still bend in the early days, Reem. I

:34:45.:34:54.

think so. I have two disagree with the description of what has happened

:34:55.:34:58.

with the Civil War. There is a conflict. It is undeniable. But

:34:59.:35:06.

whenever we see even small ceasefires, people take to the

:35:07.:35:15.

streets again demanding, peacefully, demanding freedom and justice,

:35:16.:35:18.

democracy. So there is hope I think. But again there is this

:35:19.:35:22.

responsibility of the international community that failed the Syrian

:35:23.:35:28.

people. And that caused the revolution not to fail because it is

:35:29.:35:31.

too soon in my opinion to judge it, but to go in a direction that was

:35:32.:35:41.

not our dream. Taking us back to the point about unpredictability. Thank

:35:42.:35:42.

you all. We don't feature enough

:35:43.:35:43.

engineering on this programme, particularly the big civil

:35:44.:35:45.

engineering projects. There is a sense that as nation

:35:46.:35:47.

we were once brilliant at building bridges and railways,

:35:48.:35:50.

but lost our nerve along the way and with it,

:35:51.:35:52.

and lost our will to build. But infrasructure investment is very

:35:53.:35:54.

fashionable now; so are we ready to rediscover our skills

:35:55.:35:57.

at large scale construction? Well, there is a new book out

:35:58.:35:59.

about Thomas Telford, called Man of Iron; it's

:36:00.:36:03.

by Julian Glover, who was a former special advisor

:36:04.:36:06.

at the Department for Transport. We asked him to look

:36:07.:36:08.

at what history - and Thomas Telford -

:36:09.:36:10.

tell us, about the Deep in the North Wales countryside,

:36:11.:36:12.

lies an engineering More than 200 years ago engineers

:36:13.:36:30.

in Britain were building extraordinary things,

:36:31.:36:37.

including this by my An iron aqueduct high

:36:38.:36:38.

above the River Dee. Sir Walter Scott, the great writer,

:36:39.:36:44.

came and he called it Thomas Telford was arguably

:36:45.:36:49.

Britain's first great civil His brilliant highways,

:36:50.:37:01.

bridges and canals were Writing the story of his life,

:37:02.:37:06.

I've been searching, where did the vision and daring

:37:07.:37:13.

of those amazing 19th The noise of Farringdon in central

:37:14.:37:15.

London, a world away When I wasn't writing history,

:37:16.:37:24.

I worked in government, I found the politics

:37:25.:37:29.

and bureaucracy maddening. He had real energy and ambition

:37:30.:37:33.

and he was a searcher, he was constantly doing

:37:34.:37:38.

really wonderful things. Like later people like Brunel,

:37:39.:37:42.

Telford produced incredible detailed notes and sketches,

:37:43.:37:54.

Brunel did, Stevenson did. And we have people like that out

:37:55.:37:55.

there today, is it the whole time. But the system is so blanketing down

:37:56.:38:00.

on people that there are so many We've just got to cut

:38:01.:38:03.

through all that and get So if you list the enemies

:38:04.:38:10.

of modern infrastructure, it would be accountants,

:38:11.:38:13.

lawyers, civil servants? People who just prefer

:38:14.:38:15.

to say no to things. But deep underneath Alan's

:38:16.:38:18.

office, Europe's biggest engineering project,

:38:19.:38:22.

Crossrail, is getting built at last. And Chloe Etheridge,

:38:23.:38:26.

who joined four years ago as an apprentice,

:38:27.:38:28.

thinks we could learn from it. There's a lot of big projects coming

:38:29.:38:30.

up and I think that Crossrail has been a good kick-start to bringing

:38:31.:38:34.

the skills through, particularly for apprenticeships

:38:35.:38:36.

and investing in young people. That the skills and experience can

:38:37.:38:45.

be carried on into the next big And when you started engineering,

:38:46.:38:48.

did your friends sort of wonder why on earth you were doing it,

:38:49.:38:52.

or were they, are they envious now? They must think this

:38:53.:38:55.

is the most amazing, I think sometimes people don't

:38:56.:38:57.

understand what we do. So I take pride in explaining

:38:58.:39:03.

what I do as my career and try I worked as a special

:39:04.:39:07.

adviser in government with politicians who were excited

:39:08.:39:12.

about infrastructure, They wanted to be photographed, too,

:39:13.:39:14.

in this orange kit with the big It's like the Village People,

:39:15.:39:19.

Westminster style. Forget the wimpy suit and tie,

:39:20.:39:29.

look at the butch diggers and mud. But sometimes projects

:39:30.:39:32.

turn into a nightmare. As the chair of Network Rail,

:39:33.:39:41.

Peter Hendy's got to totally Even while 54 million people

:39:42.:39:47.

a year continue to use it. So Telford and his successors didn't

:39:48.:39:54.

get it right all the time either. Brunel's great Western Railway cost

:39:55.:39:57.

2.5 times what he said it would. History will judge

:39:58.:40:00.

it in the long term. Of course we should be better

:40:01.:40:04.

at doing it, but you still need Now I think Britain might be getting

:40:05.:40:08.

a bit of that energy back. The stuff that joins things up,

:40:09.:40:20.

keeps us moving, it always matters. Good roads, space on the train,

:40:21.:40:24.

they don't happen by accident. Get it right, like Thomas Telford

:40:25.:40:29.

did, and you create something But we can't leave you without

:40:30.:40:32.

remembering Steve Hewlett, our sometime media correspondent,

:40:33.:40:46.

whose accomplishment as a journalist extended far further

:40:47.:40:49.

than this programme, and who sadly died this morning

:40:50.:40:52.

of cancer, at the age of 58. It wasn't just his knowledge

:40:53.:40:55.

of the media industry that was so valued,

:40:56.:40:58.

but his judgement. At a time when news media

:40:59.:40:59.

is in the public eye, We leave you with Steve

:41:00.:41:02.

in full cry back in 2014, on the day that Rebekah Wade

:41:03.:41:08.

and Andy Coulson were, respectively, acquitted and convicted of phone

:41:09.:41:10.

hacking at the News of the World. This trial, whatever the outcome,

:41:11.:41:13.

must surely mark the end of the As for the rest of the press,

:41:14.:41:22.

well, they're not Not so much because

:41:23.:41:27.

of hacking, and the regulation that will follow, but

:41:28.:41:30.

because of declining circulations And as for the police,

:41:31.:41:32.

well hacking has played into what have become much broader

:41:33.:41:37.

questions of public confidence. But now the politicians,

:41:38.:41:41.

they surely must have Hello. Back to feeling like February

:41:42.:42:05.

later in

:42:06.:42:06.

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