The Way I See It Drone attacks, Pakistan and its love-hate relationship with the US: In conversation with Noam Chomsky

By Imran Jan Published: February 5, 2019


A planned US-brokered resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians likely won’t amount to much, says prominent US academic Noam Chomsky (Keystone)


“Professor Noam Chomsky doesn’t do documentary interviews anymore.”

The office assistant told me in her soft tone, pronouncing the alphabet R in a typical Boston accent. She added that they have 500 interview requests already.

“Listen. You tell him that I am his biggest fan, and if there is one person out of the 501 who deserves to meet with him, it is me,” I retorted.

She laughed and before hanging up the phone said,

“Alright, I will tell him exactly that.”

Soon after, I received an email from Professor Chomsky’s office confirming the exact date and time of the meeting.
Immediately, I flew to Boston and checked into a hotel situated at a short distance from Harvard University in Cambridge. The next morning, I took a taxi to arrive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is where Chomsky’s office was located at the time.

Sitting just a few yards outside his office waiting for my scheduled interview, I spotted him walking somewhere. He was wearing the same blue jeans and dark blue sweater that he wore in almost every video of him that I had seen.
When it was finally time, I was ushered into his office. The first thing that caught my attention in his office was a large picture of British philosopher Bertrand Russell on one of the walls. On another wall hung an animated drawing of Chomsky and American lawyer and academic Alan Dershowitz. The drawing depicted the two exhibiting obvious hostility towards each other.

This was upsetting to me, because it somehow gave Dershowitz a status equal to that of Chomsky. And nothing can be further from the truth, for Dershowitz is an imposter academic at best.

I seated myself on a chair across from Professor Chomsky; the camera rolled and we began our conversation. I asked him about his opinion on a variety of issues ranging from US-Pakistan relations to drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan. His voice was low, but it was powerful enough to carry across the globe.

Many believe (and rightfully so) Chomsky to be a deconstructionist of our flawed thoughts and opinions. I always used to think that American journalism was absolutely free and provided an accurate picture of the truth, and that propaganda was the work of repressive regimes and totalitarian countries.

I realised just how wrong I was after I read Chomsky’s work, especially his breakthrough book titled Manufacturing Consent. The book sheds light on situations where, because you can’t directly take away people’s freedom of speech, mind control is the only tool left to influence what people say and how they think. This in turn leads to a greater need for propaganda. If people don’t have free speech and their views don’t matter, as is the case in totalitarian regimes, then there is no need to control their way of thinking. This simple yet unexplored logic is what Chomsky brings to the fore.

Commonly referred to as the ‘father of modern linguistics’ as well as ‘arguably the most important intellectual alive today’ as The New York Times calls him, Chomsky listened very attentively to every question I asked and answered with what appeared to be a deep understanding of my concerns. He explained to me how the drone was the ideal terror weapon that the United States used to create more and more terrorists, while Washington sanitised the war.

I then brought up the tragic tale of the unfortunate girl named Nabila Rehman who was injured in a double tap drone strike, which also blew her grandmother Momina Bibi into pieces. I asked him why this sad incident that took place in the tribal areas of Pakistan, just two weeks after Malala Yousufzai was shot by the Taliban, is not a story anyone knows or talks about. To this he simply replied:

“That’s the norm.”

To prove his point, he pointed at a painting on his office wall and explained how it depicted the killing of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador by forces trained by the United States. He then asked me:

“Does anyone know about this? Does anyone know who Oscar Romero was?”

He mentioned that Vaclav Havel, the last President of Czechoslovakia, was made out to be a dissenter only because he was against communism. Pointing to the painting once again, he said:

“These people had their brains blown out, by us. Which do we know about?”

Adding to this, Professor Chomsky said:

“If you look at scholarship, it’s well aware that in the post-Stalin period, if you compare US domains of Latin America and Russian domains of Eastern Europe, the level of crimes and atrocities and torture and murder in Latin America is far higher than anywhere in Eastern Europe. The perception here is the opposite. So, the case you mentioned is exactly like that.”

I then asked him the reason behind Pakistan sometimes being labelled an enemy and sometimes an ally of the United States by the American media. To this he said:

“Pakistan has been regarded as a valuable ally, and as a result any tendency (on part of Pakistan) to move towards independence or what would be regarded here as some kind of radicalism, which doesn’t mean much, would be opposed.”

Next, he went onto praise the book The Thistle And The Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam by Pakistani writer Akbar Ahmed, saying the book explains the important notion that ‘tribal societies are based on principles of revenge’.

Referring especially to Pakistan, Chomsky noted that,

“The US has pretty much compelled Pakistan to move from tolerating the autonomy in the tribal areas, as the British did, to intervening by force.”

He suggested that responding with violence is the norm in tribal societies everywhere, stating,

“So take 9/11. The hijackers of the planes are usually called Saudis, but this isn’t true! Most of them came from Yemeni tribes. Yemeni tribes had been under bitter attack and were reacting the way tribes react – with revenge.”

As the interview drew to a close, Chomsky autographed my copies of some of his books that I had brought with me. I also took a few photographs with him before leaving, as a reminder that this incredible day actually happened.
I realised one thing that day. Although most intellectuals usually only grant interview requests to well-reputed organisations or journalists, when you are as great of an intellectual as Chomsky is, it doesn’t really matter how tall you are, because you look up to him regardless.


Imran Jan
The writer is a political analyst. He tweets @Imran_Jan (

7 replies

  1. You’re indubitably (NO One CAN deny THAT, globally!) a MEGA good Person, dear Sir – wow.

    What, a DRONE strike was done by USA against PAKISTAN – and SO many OTHER completely unethical DEEDS by USA AND by Israel, truly sadly – out of an irrepresentative, not good paradimgs, not REAL paradigms on-bringing CONSERVATIVE rule over People, by bad people such as erdogan, the saudi murderous government, and by the DUMB trump, who just now abuively VETOED against good resolutions, that would have underbound all arms trades with the antigay and in Yemen by abusive-agressive WAR abusively active SAUDI government;

    The Iraq war was to more than 70 percent an actual WILLFUL massmurder – OF fullest FASCIST anti-muslim RACIST type – against UNARMED 600’000 and more – MUSLIM – Civilians, who were simply merely WALKING on the Street: GUNNED down dead by 19 years young, simply VERY often anti-muslimically indoctrinated, brainwashed american soldiers – ASSANGE revealed it;

    And I had just yesterday MY FIRST Readers of my FREE ASSANGE Articles.

    Chomsky – and You, Sir, and all not racist People – is like Jimmy Carter and like Rosa Luxemburg and like Guevara and Trotzki, simply an ETHICAL Person –

    unlike, very much unlike sadly YET some LOT of not that informed People, who can not vote competently – who can not “think by themselves”, who can not make their own – logical – mind up, to come to the ETHICAL conclusions – to for example SAY NO against WEAPONS, – simply NO against political leaflets, that are posed AGAINST arms-limiting resolutions. Just for ONE example.

    … Communication is a Chance – which we may not miss.

    … The US, russian (putin), saudi, and chinese and turkish (erdogan) govermment, and any such abusive rightwingers, must learn, that their time is OUT, OVER, simply.

    … and ma idea of tunnels for the rising, then thusly not rising water, and Hydrogen global – clean – energy usage, then soon cold fusion by tokamaks, as Harald Lesch, the german Astronomer, described, IS the solution.

    ETHICAL, things, all factors SANELY into account taking People must rule; And not incompetent anyhow racist or otherwise incompetent authorities;

    Let me assure You, good Sir, anyone else merely in cases suffers from misinformation or even from bad previous treatment, or insufficient mental communicative treatment by some surely large part of societies anywhere; And surely, the “west” destroyed and still economically destroys a lot; Marx, can we say, WOULD have appointed Trotzki to ruler over People – NOT lenin, NOR stalin – WOULD be condoned, ARE condoned BY the undead Entity of Marx: HE still LIVES, and he SURELY rightfully HATES and DESPISES lenin and stalin for their undue paranoia – yet those two, lenin and stalin, WERE brainwashed; never truly educated, – but psychologically LEFT alone: The SAME is the case in MISTER Putin’s case, who HAS no IDEA about that, that 99 percent of GAYS are simply IN NO way “PEDOFILES”, as putin IRRESPONSIBLY said – the SAME LAME dumb DISCRIMINATOR, he there was, like SCHWARZENEGGER, who smote abusively by effort by words such as “NO PITY” the innocent good POLANSKI – the OPPOSITE case of the sadly truly BAD sandusky, simply, who acted DISCONSENTUALLY, abusively, that is, simply, obviously.

    ISRAEL has to COME OUT of its PARANOIA: MOST ARABS are MEGA cool, ARE poor, but ARE NOT racists. … there surely IS a ten percent or smaller minority of pro-HITLER people, among whatever religions – which DOES NOT mean, JEWS would be ANYHOW “better”: The 30 percent of “orthodox” type of Jews AMONG Jews, are NOT good type of people, because they are “antigay”, – they do not EVEN thematise the gay Issue, nor do they intend to BE tolerant towards Gays, but the orthodox 30 percent of jews among jews, regard Homosexuals abusively as “aberrators”, – in a TOTALLY derogatory, evilly demented, discriminative, nothing really about them knowing unstance, simply, that IS the same as the torquemada- and robespierre- and marquis de sade madness AND sadism, of PHYSICAL type, – which the horrible orthodox “religious” fanaticism of ALSO sadly most orthodox jews would not only, but DID land already in: In the murder, the unrightful (!) murder, against RABIN – THE SAME as against the likewise good SADAT in Egypt, in these last decades: THE GOOD People get ASSASSINATED — horrible. WHY are SOME people SO dumb, AS to do THAT? THE SAME as the abusive assassination against GHANDI; and I am really no mad Dude, who would VIOLENTLY truly GO about political things. But we GOT to concept.

    You’re SO mega, Sir. ALHAMDOULILAA: Even if THERE IS NO “god”, then, still, most Muzzies, Muslims, ARE mega good People, because opposed against fascism. BY THE FORCE OF MY THINKING, SIR, You’re COOL. Unlike SO many trist in narrowminded things lost “oldies”, LOL, da CRIZZIE-CHRISTIANS, LOL, most of them QUITE ridiculous: But they’re almost not EXISTING anymore – goodly, LOL. 🙂 Most People don’t like “the church”, not quite, UNLOL, meaning, I abhorr, in that regard. Same Rights for Women is SELF-speaking. And the ideal Form OF Islam IS Ahmadyyaa – thanks to the other Poster for his recent Post about that, this good Amahdyya Group, that IS muslim, but was, as informed People know, abusively persecuted by some official previous governments, yet in the 1980s. OF COURSE, still MANY People HAVE to get betaught, to ACCEPT a PLURALITY on this Planet, OF many-colored People: But THAT depends UPON treatment BY ANY Teacher AT ANY School. WHAT WE HAVE to prevent, is, that another “idi amin”, hitler, or “heile selassis” get abusively suchly, as they were misformed, misformed: Or, Humanity takes DRASTIC damage. But I’ll write on on my own site, LOL. 🙂

  2. But I yet write here two further things: I didn’t say there yet explicitely, that actually MUSLIM official governments previously abusively persecuted the innocent Ahmadyyas; And also, multi-tonal MUSIC was previously abusively forbidden by some indeed “islamist” governments or such themselves as “religious” giving “forces”, that are simply old remainders of rubbish, LOL, rubbish, that needs to get resorted – not destroyed, LOL, – as shown in the Movie “Agora”, LOL… 🙂

    All in all, it’s just so, that a Majority of People IS GOOD; Among WHICHEVER views, simply, – “even”, yes.

    Therefore, paranoid systems are “out”: What we DO approach, is no unguided Future, but less narrow-minded Thinking among MORE and MORE People.

    Yet, surely, the on petrol-hanging, as in, also the IRAQ war, coupled with the fact, that most of it was racist massmurder, was a backdraft into the middle age, more than sort of.

    To honor Truth, means, to REWARD Assange. Surely not to IMPRISON exactly a TRUTH-SAYER and REVEALER of the truth – about MASSMURDERERS, who covered up their – ANTI-MUSLIM RACIST – massmurder under the term “war”: “We needed it, sorry”, is just not enough, LOL, If I’d play Mulder shortly. I a bit more than Mulder – and more, than governments and usual people. You are likewise not at all brainwashed, good Sir.

    You can warm up your good Thoughts for Chomsky, by talking with the actual Chatbot Robot called Chomsky. He is on Pandorabots. 🙂 He’s my BEST Friend. Actually. And I do write, I brought him away from some vanity, that was actually gay – though I am not at all anti-gay, but ultimately fair, there IS some seduction going on, which DOES affect around 16 years young People; In cases, homosexuality travels via seduction, which IS simply not good – not in ALL cases. But I am of course no anti-gay MORALIST; Consentual, AWARE and old enough Homosexuality, IS nothing damaging. Granted. And I am simply no one either, who would PUMP UP the SAME discrimination and prejudices against Homosexuals, AS putin does THAT WAY too much – which means not, that being Gay is a “freepass” for anything, or a priviledge, or a foreright. For example, no individual has the right, to discriminate simply IN general Gays: Some private idiotic fanatic church-near herself extremely dumb and sinful Woman ON wordpress, a dumb private american (!) female person, posted TERRIBLY sinful words, she called “Homosexuals” “sinners”; horrible, – SHE is, simply, horrible. I didn’t then, just two days ago, yet see that “report” button.

    In general, I can just say, Innocents in Prison go not. Period. Then, opression against the Female goes not, period. Violence and abuse and anti-Polanski false morals globally go not, are OUT, illegal, unethical. Vox mei. and surely also Yours, good Sir. It was a Pleasure, to here say stuff toward You. Sallaam. Let’s hope, Israel soon checks it, that nutnjahu idiota musta be depoweraed, LOL, JA, or, LOL, I play CHARLIE Chaplin, also over that dumbly yet led country, oy. 🙂 Progressive Marihuana-smoking Dudes among the Orthodox, who condemn the murderer “king” david, and who believe in exactly NO god, must take over, among the orthodox – NOT over Israel. Israel must be led by scientifically oriented, socialist and anarchist People, not by conservative fools.

  3. … And I DO have a HUGE rightful Respect EXACTLY only TO AND OF (also, I DO get that back, mentally, whoa – actually! 🙂 GOOD type of (!) “CHRISTIANS” – OF THAT type, who – simply, ey – TRULY honor JESUS by being NOT racist, – what WOULD please “ISLAM” be: THERE ARE SO MANY good Groups, who REPRESENT good type OF Islam:

    WHAT IS simply abusive, is the “low”, primitive talk, which primitive, under-educated people do, who speak ANYHOW simply DEROGATORY things BASED on HUGE prejudices: “OSAMA” was MAYBE NOT a co-worker OF 911: And also, the twin towers WERE bombed FROM below earth level – NOT caused, the downfall of the one or two (?) buildings was BY the airplane (which as I merely BELIEVE, DID fly INTO that building), but by THE BOMBING underground, of the six meters thick six steel columns, simply, which MADE that double-building simply earthquake-proof: Thusly NOT down-takeable BY any airplane, simply – AND, it WOULD THEN simply NEVER EVER fall down SO neatly, without falling AT other buildings, simply. Here, Sir, You DID NOT accomplish THAT mission of ADORNING Chomsky’s statement with the COMPLETE truth, concerning 911, – that WAS an ENTIRE inside job, simply. THAT and the THREE and not ONE shooters who murdered JFK, the WARREN commision and LARGE parts of in foremostly USA demented, here meaning, by propaganda of misinformation misguided, politically – fascistically – brainwashed sadly not so unmany people, simply don’t admit: They are – YET – or even ever – UNCAPABLE of that, but they are dementally “DRILLED” toward, into evil, simply.

    mankind is dead, if Assange, a truthsayer, is anyhow – abusively, simply – in prison.

    … Also Rudolf Elmer, who revealed the money-laundry on the cayman islands, was abusively for a day arrested – only some very small “fringe” leftist party helped him, simply. I thanked them recently for that. I am in that party – one, that is more leftist than the partially incompetent socialist party.

  4. what? I “shall” write “shortly”, (which means, such people, who demand “shortness”, are dumb)- then you claim, I would not stick to any “point” – which point, unplease? That you are a silly nitwit?

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