Sunday, July 29, 2012



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Revisiting The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb

Soon there will be another anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. People will again trot out the hoary argument that the bomb saved a million lives by making an invasion on the Japanese mainland unnecessary.

I've been re-reading Gar Alperovitz's 1995 book, "The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb", which examines the events leading up to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in great detail, and concludes that it was not necessary to drop the two bombs that ultimately killed between 2-300,000 innocent civilians in order to end the war. He states that the Japanese army was, by July 1945, on the verge of collapse, and that the emperor had already made moves to the Russians to surrender. The only issue keeping the Japanese from surrendering is the Allies' insistence on "unconditional" surrender without giving assurance that the Emperor will remain on the throne. With the Nuremberg trial about to start, many Japanese were afraid that the Emperor will be tried as a war criminal and even be executed, and so were ready to fight to the death to defend him.

As it happened, keeping the Emperor was exactly what the Allies did, in order to preserve stability, but in drafting the Potsdam declaration, American Secretary of State James Byrnes specifically removed any assurances for the Emperor. This was because one day before the Potsdam Conference, the Americans had successfully tested the atomic bomb, and were determined to use it. At the same the Russians strung the Japanese along with the hope of a mediated peace to buy time to move their troops east.

Alperovitz argued that the Soviet declaration of war and invasion of Manchuria on 9 Aug 1945 was the decisive factor in the Japanese surrender, since it cut off the country's main supply line and made the continuation of war all but impossible. Indeed, with the dropping of the first bomb on 6 Aug and the Soviet invasion on 9 Aug, it was hard to see why it was necessary to drop the second bomb on Nagasaki on 9 Aug. If the main objective was to force Japanese surrender, why not give them a day or two to respond to these events? 

The answer could only be that the bombs were not used as instruments to stop the war but to start another one--the Cold War. Hundreds of innocent civilians died in order to scare the Russians. What folly!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Focus on Film

最近幾個月經常為Focus on film教錄像班,這組織的對像是本地及國際學校的學生,通過為期四天的錄像訓練營,教導學生有關電影理論與拍攝技巧。跟其他我教過的錄像班的最大分別是訓練營集中在四天舉行,學生在短期內學習到有關知識並實踐,整個過程更連貫。此外他們有既定的劇本,並要求學生輪流擔當劇組不同崗位,令學生從實習中認識整個製作流程。

Focus on film打算在來年開辦更多錄像班,積極招攬導師。上個月我參加了他們的導師訓練日,並參與演出。