by Timothy Chilman
U.S. government documents tell of a planned invasion of Canada. Such a thing has been attempted before.
The first major military effort of the American Revolutionary War was an invasion of Canada led by Benedict Arnold prior to his turning traitor. In the course of Mr. Madison’s War (1812-1815), several invasions were attempted. It was in 1839 that Americans in Maine challenged Canadians over a border squabble known formally as the Aroostock War and informally as the Pork ‘n Beans War. No shots were fired, but an American cow, a Canuck pig, and a few American militiamen were injured. In 1866, 1870, and 1871, around 800 Americans of Irish extraction sought to deliver a blow in the name of Irish liberty by invading Canada. In the 1866 episode, they traversed the Niagara River and moved to Ontario, bested some Canadian militiamen, and then fled in the face of British soldiers.
During the War of Northern Aggression (1861-65), the United Kingdom came close to war with the Union. Confederate sympathizers sheltered in Canada, from which they launched raids. One of the ships the United Kingdom built for the Confederates was the CSS Alabama, which destroyed or captured 65 ships. British diplomat Lord Lyons wrote to his superior: “There can, unhappily, be no doubt that three-quarters of the American people are eagerly longing for a safe opportunity of making war with England.” The United Kingdom’s sympathies for the Confederates were the prime reason for the emancipation of slaves by Abe Lincoln – the United Kingdom opposed slavery so British support for Johnny Reb would be undermined. In 1895, President Cleveland threatened the Untied Kingdom with war over a border dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana (present-day Guyana).
In October 1970, in response to Québécois separatist activity, U.S. troops and armor moved to the Canadian border and prepared to occupy Montreal and Ottawa, according to an interview the Royal Canadian Mounted Police director of counter-intelligence gave to the Toronto Star in 1973. The story was confirmed by a nameless Canadian army officer. It is rumored that U.S. armed forces were put on alert at the time of the sovereignty referendum in Quebec in 1980.
The idea of invading Canada has manifested itself in American popular culture. The 1995 film, Canadian Bacon, had American president Alan Alda decide to stimulate the economy through initiating conflict with Diet America. His call to arms was: “Surrender pronto, or we’ll level Toronto.” The 1999 film, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, saw the United States declare war on Canada. 2002 saw the right-wing magazine, the National Review, featured an essay entitled “Bomb Canada: the Case for War,” which suggested the the United States mount a lightning raid on Canada, where something would be blown up, possibly a vacant hockey stadium. Canada would then stop wasting money on the frippery of universal healthcare and instead lavish cash on its underdeveloped military. Author Jonah Goldberg said that this would transmogrify “Canada’s neurotic anti-Americanism” into “manly resolve.”
The website, invadecanada.us, lists many sound reasons for invading Canada, although it says it doesn’t want the permafrost bit. Alaska would be joined to the rest of the United States, for starters – so many Alaskans perpetually complain of being separate from the “continental 48 states.” An invasion could be justified, as so often, by humanitarian reasons: the magnetic north pole is in Canada, and Santa Claus must be protected.
Success, the website says, would be guaranteed. The military hero of the United States is General Douglas MacArthur, while that of Canada is Dudley Do-Right. Due to Canada’s French streak, the white flags would be out before U.S. forces even left home.
War Plan Red was a plan to defeat the British Empire. The Empire was Red, while Canada was Crimson. The plan was approved in May, 1930, by the Secretaries of War and the Navy. Its objective was: “ULTIMATELY, TO GAIN COMPLETE CONTROL OF CRIMSON.”
In a joint Army/Navy mission, troops would travel the 370 miles from Boston to St. Margaret’s Bay and seize the port of Halifax early in the war. This would isolate Canadian forces from their British allies: Halifax is the only ice-free port on the east coast, and it was where the transatlantic cable came ashore.
Among the other targets were Montreal, then Canada’s largest city, Quebec, the railroad hub of Winnipeg, and the nickel mines of Ontario. The Navy would take the Great Lakes and blockade Canada’s essential Pacific and Atlantic ports. Power plants near the Niagara Falls would be captured so that, as Peter Carlson put it in the Washington Post, the people of Canada would “freeze in the dark.”
Winnipeg is 60 miles from the U.S. border. Seizure of Quebec and Winnipeg would, the plan said, cripple those Canadian industries which depended on steam power. The plan said that Winnipeg was “the nerve center of the transcontinental railroad,” control of which would effectively separate the eastern and western halves of Canada, and prevent transportation of men, oil, grain, coal, and meat to eastern Canada. British Caribbean possessions would be conquered to prevent a British attack from the south. Carlson added that the plan would “bring these Molson-swigging, maple-mongering Zamboni drivers to their knees!”
War Plan Red assumed the British would capture Hawai’i, the Philippines, the Panama Canal, and Guam.
An amendment to the plan was made in 1934 in a memo to the Joint Board from Colonel W. Krueger and Commander A.S. Carpender. The U.S. Army was directed to prepare for the use of chemical weapons against Canada. This would, needless to say, be a humanitarian move, as abbreviating the war would save American lives.
The plan anticipated a long conflict as “the RED race” was “phlegmatic” and well-known for its talent for fighting to the bitter end. The British Empire would be greatly assisted by its generous supply of darkies from around the Empire: “Some of the colored races however come of good fighting stock, and, under white leadership, can be made into very efficient troops.”
Invasion of Canada by the United States was enough of a risk that the Canadian military formulated countermeasures. The solution was to attack first, and divert U.S. attention for long enough for British reinforcements to arrive. Defense Scheme No. 1 was drawn up by First World War hero, James Sutherland “Buster” Brown, who loathed Americans. His total annual budget was $1,200, and he entered the United States in plain clothes to take pictures and obtain free maps from gas stations.
Brown proposed the rapid deployment of flying columns to occupy Seattle, Minneapolis, Great Falls, and Albany. Fancy a Republic of New England? Surprise, he said, was more important than preparation. The American military recognized that a number of American beaches such as Ocean City and Rehoboth would be “excellent” locations for British landings.
Defense Scheme No. 1 was withdrawn in 1928, two years before War Plan Red was authorized, but it could have been dusted off. The United States was undeterred. A military expert, Captain H.L. George, testified to Congress that Canada’s thousands of lakes could serve as bases for seaplanes, from which aircraft could take off and bomb Baltimore and Boston. A secret reconnaissance team was sent to Labrador and Hudson Bay to identify concealed Canadian seaplane facilities. George made those wily Canucks sound really scary. He began: “They know now what they are going to bomb. They know where every railroad crosses every river. They know where every refinery lies. They know where every power plant is located. They know all about our water supply systems… Now they are dispersed widely out over this area. Their location is most difficult for us to learn, for our own air force to learn. We have to hunt them up.”
Canada has always maintained a sizable fifth column within the United States. These days, it is spearheaded by the likes of Mike Myers and Celine Dion. The news departments of the major television networks are riven with Canucks, and in the event of hostilities, the United States could expect to lose the information war, just as it did in Vietnam. These potential insurgents have thoroughly penetrated U.S. society, and you might be sitting next to one right now! As the plan put it, “it would be necessary to deal internally” with these undesirable elements, plus domestic “pacifists” and other professional complainants. We’re talking internment camps.
The weather would be an obstacle to a U.S. invasion of Canada, so all that “Red” forces need do would be to delay the advance by “Blue,” destroying bridges and railroad tracks and the like. War Plan Red conceded that operations between November 1st and April 15th would be “difficult, if not impossible.”
While any army should prepare for every possible eventuality, War Plan Red went beyond the drawing board. Concrete measures were undertaken to facilitate the invasion of Canada. In 1931, the U.S. government dispatched record-breaking flying hero (and Nazi sympathizer) Charles Lindbergh to Hudson Bay to determine the prospects for using sea planes in warfare.
In February 1935, $57 million was allocated to construct three air bases close to the Canadian Border, to allow for pre-emptive attacks on Canadian airfields. They would be given the appearance of civilian airports. This can be seen on p61 of the February 11-13, 1935 Hearings of the House of Representatives Committee on Military Affairs. The testimony was supposed to be secret, but it was published mistakenly and ended up on page one of the New York Times on May 1. The Canadian government protested, but President Franklin Roosevelt gave reassurances that the United States was not considering war.
Half-a-dozen years before himself being elected president, President Roosevelt’s fifth cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, penned a letter to General James Harrison Wilson on November 5, 1895 which was quoted in The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. It said that “the greatest boon I could confer upon this nation” was a prompt war with the United Kingdom to take Canada. He said, “I will do my very best to bring about the day.” So of course, we believe the other Roosevelt’s protestations.
In August 1935, the United States held what was then its largest ever peacetime mobilization of forces when 36,000 troops converged south of Ottawa and 15,000 were held in reserve in Pennsylvania. The scenario was a vehicle-borne invasion of Canada. It was well-documented by the Souvenir of the First Army Maneuvers: The Greatest Peace Time Event in US History.
In 1939, as the Second World War began, the U.S. Army War College and Naval War College planned an “Overseas Expeditionary Force to Capture Halifax from Red-Crimson Coalition.” War Plan Red received much more attention than War Plan Black, the plan for war with Germany, with whom the United States actually went to war.
When questioned about War Plan Red, the director of the Canada Institute in Washington said, “I’ve never heard of it.” The spokesman for the Canadian Embassy in Washington said, “I remember sort of hearing about this.” The mayor of Sudbury, Ontario, where nickel mines were prime targets of the plan, said, “It’s the first I’ve heard of it.” A Pentagon spokesman said that he was unaware of War Plan Red, but conceded that he would not admit to it even if he were not. The mayor of Winnipeg, another major target, said that weather would cause a U.S. invasion of Canada to end up like Napoleon’s venture into Russia: “I’m quite convinced that you’ll meet your Waterloo on the banks of the Assiniboine River.”
Any invasion of Canada by the United States is likely to begin at Fort Drum, half an hour from the Canadian border. In 1984, Fort Drum accommodated only an engineering battalion, but it was later expanded in the largest Army construction project ever by the Corps of Enginqueers, although there was already a surplus of military bases. Now, Fort Drum is home to a rapid assault light division and a reserve armored division of 30,000 troops.
It would be simplicity itself to seize the Canadian military communications center at Kingston, Ontario and cut Canadian forces off. Taking Highway 2 and Highway 401 would prevent reinforcements from reaching Toronto and the capital of Ottawa. “Surrender pronto, or we’ll level Toronto.” Perhaps the Canadian Airborne Regiment could have stopped it, if only it had not been disbanded in 1995.
Unlike paratroopers or Marines, the 10th Mountain Division is not designed to attack defended borders. It specializes in surprise attack, and is trained and equipped for house-to-house combat and winter warfare. There is a center for urban warfare at Fort Drum. Fort Drum’s troops are not well-disposed to rapid deployment to overseas troublespots because of the area’s chronic bad weather: snowfall is 10 feet on average, and a nearby village boasts the New York State record of 40 feet. The site is actually used for Arctic weather training, and the Corps of Enginqueers found that Fort Drum had the worst weather in all the eastern United States.
The light vehicles and helicopters of the 10th Mountain Division would be considerably better suited to an attack on Ontario or Southern Quebec. Invasion was also planned in 1888, 1893, 1896, 1909, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1916, and 1921. In 1896, the Secretary of the Navy instructed Commodore “Damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead!” Gridly to evaluate Canadian defenses and plan an invasion. Gridly recommended the attack originate below Ogdensburg, close to present-day Fort Drum. It would have been a surprise attack not preceded by a declaration of war, just like Pearl Harbor. War games in 1910 produced the headline “Canadian Army Crushed” in New York.
The official spokesman for Fort Drum said, “We most certainly are not preparing to invade Canada” and that the idea was difficult to believe. Many Canadian soldiers were training there, he said: “I bumped into a Canadian officer in the bathroom the other day.”
It will not be long afore the oil runs out, unrestrained commercialism has left U.S. aquifers too poisonous to supply drinking water, and global warming has turned the U.S. heartland into desert. Then, the United States will gaze north, covetously. A crisis will be manufactured, along the lines of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction or the USS Maine, and then the United States will invade. It could so easily be flavored as some kind of Christian crusade. The American public can be deceived into allowing its soldiers to be sent anywhere on the flimsiest of pretexts.
War Plan Red acknowledged that the Royal Navy could not
be defeated, and even now it is down to about three ships and NO AIRCRAFT CARRIER, the famed British ingenuity could perhaps pull off a naval blockade to starve the United States of oil. Hey, the United States is rather large and its terrain passable. Mayhaps Mexico could be persuaded to undertake a little irridentism, and bring the Texicans back into the fold. Fuck you, Major General Paul Vallely. U.S. cities are densely populated, and would be highly susceptible to the merest hint of cold steel. Obesity in the U.S. military has doubled since 2003.
The hostile intentions of the United States toward Canada are plain to see, and should they become so evident as to guarantee public support, the United Kingdom would be well-advised to get its retaliation in first, just like with Defense Scheme No. 1. It would be time to send in the lads, and the British Empire would rise again.
“A 1935 US Plan for Invasion of Canada.” Glasnost – Archiv. 1 February 1995. 23 September 2011. <http://www.glasnost.de/hist/usa/1935invasion.html.>
“War Plan Crimson.” Globalsecurity.org. n.d. 23 September 2011. <http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/war-plan-red-crimson.htm.>
“War Plan Red.” Globalsecurity.org. n.d. 23 September 2011. <http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/war-plan-red.htm.>
“Why invade Canada?” InvadeCanada.US. n.d. 23 September 2011.
Carlson, Peter. “Raiding the Icebox.” Washington Post. 30 December 2005. 23 September 2011. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/29/AR2005122901412.html.>
Gerrie, David. “War on the ‘Red Empire’: How America planned for an attack on BRITAIN in 1930 with bombing raids and chemical weapons.” Daily Mail. 21 September 2011. 23 September 2011. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2039453/How-America-planned-destroy-BRITAIN-1930-bombing-raids-chemical-weapons.html.>
Rudmin, Floyd. “Bordering on Aggression.” Peace Magazine. n.d. 23 September 2011. <http://archive.peacemagazine.org/v09n2p20.htm.>
Rudmin, Floyd. “Secret War Plans and the Malady of American Militarism.” Counterpunch. 18 February 2006. 23 September 2011. <http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/02/17/secret-war-plans-and-the-malady-of-american-militarism/.>
Soniak, Matt. “America’s Plan to Invade Everyone.” Mental Floss. 21 January 2008. 23 September 2011. <http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/11388.>