Monday, October 13, 2008

Edwin Black Q&A

An edited version of this interview appears in the October 13th edition of The Miami Herald along with a review of the new book, The Plan.

Though based in Washington, DC, South Florida seems to be Edwin Black’s second home. The peripatetic author’s current and previous books were launched here, he frequently speaks at local events and visits to recharge a bit between writing and the promoting.

I first met Black after reviewing IBM and the Holocaust and have followed his successive work with great interest. During a recent visit in late August, we had a quick chat over lunch, then a flurry of phone calls and e-mails that resulted in this colloquy.

Why did you write this book? Specifically, why did you select this topic and the form it took; literally, a plan?
The Plan
was an outgrowth of my commitment to tackle America’s addiction to oil in the age of petro-terrorism and petro-politics. I’ve spent my life chronicling a terrible past in hopes of preserving a precious future. My oil addiction books — this is my second — documents a precious past juxtaposed against a terrible future. Our addiction to oil is a clear and present danger. But The Plan is not about energy independence which is, at best, a distant goal. The Plan outlines how to recognize and survive an energy Pearl Harbor imposing an oil interruption on America—this can come at any moment. This crisis will require a plan to survive. Amazingly, no government official, local or federal, has even discussed such a plan — but our allies have.

How long did it take to research and writing the Plan?
Most of my books require one to two years of intense writing and research, much of it in dusty archives located in numerous countries. The Plan was different. Centering on the confluence of historic precedent, existing energy policy and the threats against the Strait of Hormuz, I was able to write this book in about six months with the help of only half dozen research assistants. My established paper-intensive, on-site documentation techniques were converted to electronic and computerized methods. Therefore, I was able to footnote every paragraph and organize the documentation as usual, but using Internet databases and reducing everything to a series of Adobe PDFs, rather than yards of archival documents.

In your earlier books, you encountered resistance from some of the companies that were profiled, specifically IBM and GM. Who wouldn't speak to you this time, and did they seek to prevent others from cooperating with you?
This time is was certain groups within the Department of Energy, and certain industrial association such as the American Trucking Association and oil industry group. But The Plan yielded a tremendous turnaround in one company, General Motors. In my previous investigations, General Motors would not answer any questions or even communicate. They tried to stonewall and rebut their involvement with the Hitler regime and the subversion of America’s trolley system. After three years of the most negative publicity based on my writings and facing bankruptcy, GM underwent a complete turnaround. The response time of their media department was this time measured in minutes — indeed moments. This time, they were honest, admitted all their past misdeeds, but were also quick to explain their fresh new commitment to the electrification of their fleet beginning 2010. If GM can be believed, it will be a major part of the solution to getting off oil.

Has your book reached either of the presidential candidates? If so, any feedback?
In my opinion, nothing can reach any of the presidential candidates. No matter how good a plan is, they will be oblivious to it. Between McCain offering a $300,000,000 bonus for a battery invented decades ago and Obama offering to position one million plug-in hybrids seven years from today, when there will probably be 300 million gas guzzlers on the road, increasing at the rate of 1.5 million per month, it became clear to me that while someone needs to provide them with a copy of The Plan, I think they are too busy making empty promises and using alt energy buzzwords to absorb any new ideas. Between the old guard and the new guard, in the event of an oil interruption, America will discover that its leadership has been uniformly negligent. There will be a Katrina-style catastrophe in every city from South Beach to Seattle. No one will care until it is too late.

Beyond promoting this book, what's the next step for you in trying to secure the implementation of The Plan?
I’m just one man working with no help with no one’s permission rallying a diverse national movement of alt energy advocates who are only now awakening to the reality that beyond the warm and fuzzy goal of energy independence, there is no plan for an energy interruption, which could occur at any moment. My website will bring people together to develop such plans. Not only am I speaking to public groups around the country in book and author events, I am meeting with key industry leaders, employers and organizations explaining exactly how they can help get a plan for their company, association and community. In fact, my very first meeting the day before I officially launched the book in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was a closed-door briefing with two key magnates in the transportation sector who are determined to move aggressively to adopt a plan and to help get our country off oil. But I have found too many are reacting too slowly to the necessity to learn about the coming hurricane in the Gulf…not the Gulf of Mexico but the Persian Gulf, which holds the key to 40 percent of all seaborne oil, 18 percent of the global supply and 15 to 20 percent of America’s oil lifeline. It can all be shut down by Iran or Al Qaeda at a slender choke point just two miles wide in each direction called the Strait of Hormuz.

What role does Nova University play in your book promotion?
Nova Southeastern University has been the launch pad for each of my books during the past several years. To me, Nova represents the most enlightened university management I have encountered, willing to commit its resources, its campus and its support to new ideas and the pursuit of new revelations. I have found Nova particularly interested in helping the country get off of oil by promoting the discussion and jumping at every chance to adopt new technology as soon as it’s available. Unlike most universities which seek the aggrandizement of their own institution to the exclusion of others, I have found Nova exercises profound caring and sharing with the community.

Next book, tying all the American corporate Holocaust collaborators? Then what?
My next book is Nazi Nexus, already announced and should appear by the end of the year. Nazi Nexus will connect the dots like never before demonstrating the indispensable and pivotal involvement of America’s major corporate entities in the Holocaust—it’s inspiration, it’s planning, its execution and its cover-up. These include, at the top of the list, IBM followed by General Motors, Ford, the Carnegie Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation. Assembled in one volume, the indictment should be devastating.

And after Nazi Nexus?
Another megabook just as frightening for our future as anything I’ve written about our past. It’s called codenamed Project R, and I can’t wait. But like all my projects, it will be a secret until it releases.

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