Mental Floss

America's Plan to Invade Everyone

Matt Soniak
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Before that whole treason thing sullied his historical legacy, Benedict Arnold led an invasion force into Canada during the American Revolution. He failed miserably.

In 1839, a cow (American), a pig (Canadian) and a handful of militiamen (American) were injured in the Aroostook War, a short and unofficial conflict between Maine and Canada over a border dispute.

Invading Canada, it seems, is as American as apple pie. The only problem is that we suck at it. Well, traitors and lumberjacks do, anyway. If you want a job done right, you have to go to the big boys, but surely the federal government wouldn't ever dream of invading friendly, free-trading Canada. Would they?

Turns out, the United States government did have a plan to invade Canada. "Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan - Red" is a 94-page, step-by-step plan to invade, capture and annex the land of maple syrup.

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Plan Red outlines a series of possible campaigns aimed at capturing key ports, cities and railroad lines before British reinforcements could arrive, preventing them from using Canadian resources and infrastructure to their advantage.

While a joint Army-Navy overseas force captured the port city of Halifax, cutting Canada off from the Atlantic, the U.S. Army would attack on three fronts, advancing from North Dakota, Vermont, and the upper Midwest to capture Winnipeg, Montreal and the nickel mines of Ontario, respectively. American forces were also supposed to capture British colonies in the Caribbean to defend the country from an attack from the south.

The Canadian Response

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The hypothetical war, of course, never happened. Canada and the United States became allies during World War II, and partners in NATO and NAFTA. Today, the two countries share the world's longest demilitarized border, which has the world's largest number of legal crossings. War Plan Red and its color-coded siblings were withdrawn in 1939 and declassified in 1974. They now reside in the National Archives, where foreign spies can photocopy them for 15 cents a page (War Plan Red is online, too). And everyone lived happily ever after.

And those other color plans? Well, here are my favorites:

War Plan Citron: an invasion of Brazil War Plan Emerald: intervention in Ireland in conjunction with War Plan Red War Plan Green: war with Mexico in order to establish a pro-American government War Plan Indigo: an invasion of Iceland (in 1941, parts of the plan were actually used during Battle of the Atlantic when the US relieved British occupation forces) War Plan Lemon: an invasion of Portugal War Plan White: plan for dealing with civil disturbances cause by Communist insurgents

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