U.S. Invasion Plans for…Canada?

In 1930, the United States formally approved “War Plan Red.” Although never put into action, the plan caused a major international rift when it was declassified in 1974. Did the United States really plan to go to war…with Great Britain?

War Plan Red

Cover Sheet for Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan Red
Source: StrategyTheory.org

War Plan Red: The Most Sensitive Document on Earth?

My how times have changed. Today Great Britain is viewed by American political leaders as its greatest ally. But back in 1930, opinions were decidedly different. Americans harbored suspicious feelings toward its former ruler. In addition, Great Britain was indebted to America to the tune of £9 billion thanks to the so-called “Great War.”

But those things paled in comparison to the brutal, long-term economic and political oil war that was being waged between wealthy interests from both countries. On one side stood the Rockerfellers and Standard Oil, which had previously held dual monopolies in international crude and export oil markets. On the other side, the Morgans and the Rothschilds stood alongside the newly-formed British Royal Dutch-Shell company. In many ways, the tensions between the two nations can be directly traced to this expanding “oil war.”

As such, the American military prepared War Plan Red – a document once considered the “most sensitive on earth.” Military officers thought that in the event of war, Great Britain would most likely stage attacks from the north. So, America proposed an invasion of British-controlled Canada.

How did War Plan Red Work?

According to the initial plan, one force would swarm the port city of Halifax, effectively cutting off British support. A second force would seize power plants near Niagara Falls. Then troops would invade Canada in a three-pronged approach while the Navy annexed the Great Lakes and blockaded Canadian ports. Massive bombing raids and chemical weapon deployment would accompany the attacks.

In February 1935, the plan was updated and “the U.S. Congress authorised $57 million to be allocated for the building of three secret airfields on the U.S. side of the Canadian border, with grassed-over landing strips to hide their real purpose.” Also, “America staged its largest-ever military maneuvers, moving troops to and installing munitions dumps at Fort Drum, half an hour away from the eastern Canadian border.”

It’s impossible to know what exactly would’ve happened in the event of war. But the world as we know it would probably look very different today.

“Using available blueprints for this war, modern-day military and naval experts now believe the most likely outcome of such a conflict would have been a massive naval battle in the North Atlantic with very few actual deaths, but ending with Britain handing Canada over to the U.S. in order to preserve our vital trade routes.” ~ David Gerrie, Daily Mail

Defense Scheme No. 1: Canada’s Version of War Plan Red?

By the way, don’t feel too bad for Canada here. It turns out Canada had its own version of War Plan Red, which it called “Defense Scheme No. 1.” Created in 1921, it detailed a preemptive invasion of America in the event of a possible war. The idea was to send “flying columns” to Seattle, Great Falls, Minneapolis, and Albany. The Canadian military hoped this would distract and delay the more powerful American military, thus providing ample time for British forces to arrive. This plan was ultimately discarded in 1928.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Interestingly enough, War Plan Red was just one of numerous contingency plans that are now known as the Rainbow Plans. For instance, War Plan Black was created before World War I to deal with a possible conflict with Germany. War Plan Orange considered how best to attack Japan. And most frightening, War Plan White was designed to suppress a domestic revolt.

As for War Plan Red, it became moot when World War II broke out and America threw its weight behind the Allies. But for a few short years, the economic ambitions and political power of the world’s largest oil industrialists nearly led to war. Such a war would’ve altered relations between the two countries…impacted the global balance of power…and changed the world forever.

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